[Album Review] THRILL-ING (6th Mini Album) – The Boyz

I am glad that we will got to hear more from The Boyz, particularly since the gap between their last official comeback (The Stealer) and this comeback is almost a year (to be precise, 9 months, but I rounded up)! The Boyz made their comeback at the start of August with THRILL RIDE, their most successful title track yet. It is featured on their 6th mini-album, THRILL-ING, which has also released on the same day. THRILL-RIDE and THRILL-ING is the group’s first domestic comeback of the year, and it also follows the group’s recent appearance on Kingdom: Legendary War, after the group won a ticket to the main competition through their appearance on Road To Kingdom last year.

THRILL-ING Album Cover

1. THRILL RIDE (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of THRILL RIDE. (9/10)

2. Out of Control (환상열차) – While THRILL RIDE was a lot brighter and peppy, Out of Control takes a serious turn with a slightly heavier sound. It features dramatic sirens throughout that really sets the tone for the song, and an intense EDM background for an otherwise pop melody. While I quite like the vibes and tone of the instrumentation, I kind of wished the hooks for Out of Control were more pronounced. Melodically (thanks to the vocals), it was quite satisfying. But I just found it was lacking that memorability. The rappers shined with their parts, and the bridge was hella smooth. (8/10)

3. Dance Til We DropDance Til We Drop brings forth funkier vibes that just makes you want to get up and dance. I just liked how emphasized the funky sounds were, making this is another strong instrumental. I feel that the chorus could have used a bit more bite when it comes to hooks and melodies. What we got was more so on the pleasant side and doesn’t do the funky vibes from the background in the chorus justice. But overall, a fun and bright track. (8.5/10)

4. Nightmares (黑花) – Looking at the tracklist, Nightmares was the clear song that would act as the album’s outlier. Just from the title, you can feel a dark vibe. And well, Nightmares exudes just that. It starts off with haunting harmonization before the song’s edgy instrumental comes into play. I really like that consistent hit of electric guitar we get as the beat in the instrumental. The vocals (including the whispery deliver, the harmonization we get in the pre-choruses and the high notes we are treated to) and the deep tone rapping further emphasizes the dark aesthetics of the song. Everything in Nightmares came together perfectly, and the song itself is my personal favourite on the album. (10/10)

5. Merry Bad Ending Merry Bad Ending combines the likes of EDM and R&B to create a pretty good song. While Merry Bad Ending is more of a vocally centric track, the EDM brings adds a rough texture to the song and keeps the appeal quite interesting. The R&B comes through via the vocals and adds smoothness to the song, creating a well-balanced track overall. The rapping adds a bit of edge to the song, which I find fitting with the EDM side of the song. (9/10)

6. B.O.Y (Bet On You) – The final song on the album is B.O.Y (Bet On You), a pop song with a nice blend of instruments and synths that I find extremely fitting for the season of Summer. I particularly like the use of acoustics in this song, with this particular element standing out over the synths for me (in a good way). The vocals and rap-singing adds some brightness to the song, and I liked the harmonies in the song. Altogether, B.O.Y comes off with a refreshing tone that makes it easy on the ears, as well. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] THRILL RIDE – The Boyz

A new week bring new releases. And the one of the many comebacks that start off this week belongs to The Boyz, who dropped THRILL RIDE earlier today. This new track is featured on the group’s sixth mini-album, THRILL-ING. We last saw The Boyz through their The Stealer comeback in September of last year. More recently, we saw the group participate in Kingdom: Legendary War, after receiving a one-way ticket to the show after winning Road To Kingdom. The group has also released a number of singles including Christmassy, Breaking Dawn and Drink It since their last comeback as well. But today, we are hear for a deeper listen to THRILL RIDE.

From the get-go, THRILL RIDE blasts us it with relentless energy. While many groups have done this before, THRILL RIDE has this fun and playful tone within the song which helps makes The Boyz’s delivery in this song actually quite unique. This uniqueness is also prominent when we consider the genre of the song – hip hop. I don’t think I have heard such a fun and playful sounding side of hip-hop in KPOP before (or for a while now, at the very least). That being said, THRILL RIDE had its intense and edgy moments, which are synonymous with most hip-hop releases. But let’s start from the start. The song begins with a very colourful and vibrant instrumentation that features deep autotune repetitions of the song’s title. The members continue the same vibrancy in the verses, with the hip-hop influences coming through quite strongly. THRILL RIDE‘s intensity comes in the form of the song’s pre-chorus, with Juyeon in the first verse and Ju Hakyeon in the second bringing us a concentrated burst of intensity. It is a bit of a curveball, but it is one that allows The Boyz to kick a home run with this song. The chorus opts for a pop melody, but this works really well with the material that The Boyz has created thus far. The second verse and chorus repeats the same techniques, but also maintains the appeal and energy from the first section of the song. The bridge opts for smoother vocals from New and Hyunjae, and a high note courtesy of Sangyeon. Then, Sunwoo and Eric launches us back into the final chorus with a brief whisper-rap sequence. I wished the producers opted for a changeup in the final chorus. I liked the consistency that the final chorus gives to the song in this case, but I think THRILL RIDE could have been more dynamic in its final moments to really bring the song home. But overall, THRILL RIDE is an exceptional Summer track that is vibrant and energetic but also taps into The Boyz’s skills.

I liked that the music video was all about having fun. Set in a hotel resort environment, the members both playing parts of patrons and staff at the resort (lifeguards, receptionist bellboys, waiters, bartenders etc.). I liked how on one end the members seemed professional and friendly. But on the other hand, the members can also be quite wild. The latter was particularly well captured in the scenes where they are in their bathrobes and wearing sunglasses. I feel those scenes really sums up the video is a very succinct manner. There are some edgy scenes, as well. And they did their job fine. Overall, it is a well produced video that works really well with the song.

I really like the energy that the members put into this choreography. It looks like the performance was just continuous and never really stops. In addition to a tiring routine, the members did a really good job of keep me captivated with their facial expressions, which were all smiles and a whole lot of vibrancy. I particularly enjoyed the post-chorus moments, where they repeat the title of the song. The formations were cool and super fun!

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.2/10

[Special] Kingdom: Legendary War Review – WHO IS THE KING (Final Round)

Earlier this month, Kingdom: Legendary War began its run, pitting six well known and high performing male groups against one another for the throne. The Boyz, winner of the prequel season Road To Kingdom last year, is featured as one of these male groups. During the 2020 MAMA Awards, it was confirmed that Stray Kids and ATEEZ will be participating. And in January 2021, it was also confirmed that iKON, BTOB and SF9 will be joining the lineup. It was also confirmed that TVXQ (a name in the industry worthy of the Kingdom title without a doubt) will be hosting, but this was later reduced to just Max Changmin, as Yunho was involved in a scandal and was edited out as much as possible (and will not make an appearance in future rounds).

As I have reviewed part of Queendom and all of Road To Kingdom, I will also be reviewing the stages of Kingdom: Legendary War, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.


Final Round – WHO IS THE KING?

After two months of performances, we have finally reached the final round. WHO IS THE KING? started a week prior to the episode airing, with the final songs released to see which group would garner more attention on the music charts. This attention (and their ranking on the music charts) would determine the first set of points the group’s would get, thus contributing to their final score.

When the episode starting airing, fans were given the opportunity to live vote for their favourite groups, thus creating a second set of points the groups were able to get in the final round.

At the conclusion of the performances, the live votes were tallied and added to all the points which the groups have accumulated throughout the competition. The group with the most points would be crowned the King!

For this review/rundown, I will be having a deeper listen to the songs released by each of the groups and a closer watch of the performances. I will also be giving a final rating based on these aspects, allowing me to determine a rank for the final round.

Then I will look at all my rankings I have done since the start of the show to determine who I thin should have been crowned the King! See you at the end.


The Real (멋) – ATEEZ

Going first up in the final round is always a daunting task and that task was assigned to ATEEZ. But knowing ATEEZ’s style, this task was going to be a piece of cake for the group. The Real taps into the hip-hop genre, combining it with a really dynamic and upbeat instrumentation filled with abrasive synths that has a sense of familiarity for me. I am sure somewhere on the blog, I have heard these same synths somewhere. But despite that, I really like that ATEEZ took those synths and really made it their own hype song. ATEEZ’s rappers kept the song dynamic, especially in the verses, and helped moved the song along. The vocalists really help give The Real some definition, and kept the song grounded and still for a brief moment. I think this was needed to prevent the song from being too overwhelming with the synths and energy. It also made the chorus that followed become more impactful. But what really sold me with this song is the energy that comes off it. I love the relentless energy that just doesn’t stop coming at you. And I also really liked how the energy just kept on piling up, especially towards the end. It was an exciting and stimulating opener to the round. It even got the crowd (i.e. other participants) hyped up. Definitely a style I would like ATEEZ to continue with in the future.

I feel the stage for this performance was a bit weak. While the choreography and energy was undeniable, I felt the performance could have had more of a wow factor to it. It might have been a stylistic choice to not include a wowing moment in the performance, but I felt that is where this performance fell short. I really like how the markings on the locker and the way the microphones were positioned to make the hangul of the song’s title appear at the right angles. That would have taken a while to set up and to ensure the camera work was on point (we all know how sometimes camera people like to not capture the right moments). I also feel the other stage props and setups had a fun vibe to them, which also matches the song (i.e. the puppet box and the chickens). As for the choreography, it definitely had that hype energy that felt on par with the song. I also felt their stage presence and personality made the choreography more energetic.

Final Rating – 7.9/10


WOLFGANG – Stray Kids

With WOLFGANG, Stray Kids relies heavily on momentum and intensity to get through their performance. There is also a showcase display of vocals and rapping from the members throughout the song. But I feel that comes second in WOLFGANG. I feels the members could have been a bit more angsty at certain parts (like in some of their other performances), which would have made for a more intense and thrilling performance. This would have made the dynamic performance even more dynamic and powerful, and give them more room to experiment with performance strategies on stage. I also find it interesting that none of the members really stood out to me in this WOLFGANG. Each member brought their individual style to the song, but the limelight was shared between members. Instrumentally, I liked the choir-like background to this song. It gives of a suspenseful atmosphere and does a good job of contrasting with the vocal/rapping delivery that we did get in the song. It also felt like something was simmering away in the background, concentrating as the song progressed along. Glad to hear in the end that energy was released in a relentless and concentrated manner that makes for a really thrilling ender to the performance. It started with the EDM instrumental break before leading into a dramatic increase in strings for the final sequence. It definitely showed Stray Kid’s powerful potential and it gave what I thought the performance definitely needed.

I really like the idea of the members turning into werewolves for this performance. The members started out as humans, before they start donning fur to show their transition from human to werewolf. But I think they are new to this transition, with some of dance moves starting off small (i.e. when they jump off the dancers back the first time). But as we get towards the end, the members become used to this change and exert more dominance, leading them to leaping off the dancers’ back the second time around. The choreography for the ending sequence also looked really powerful, matching the energy they exuded in the song. The show-stopping moment of the performance has to be Bangchan putting on the wolf attire showing some skin in the process, which I assume has thrown the STAY fandom into disarray.

Final Ranking – 8.1/10


KINGDOM COME – THE BOYZ

The Boyz rounded out their Kingdom journey (Road To Kingdom & Kingdom: Legendary War) with KINGDOM COME. I liked that their song reminded me of their winning song from Road To Kingdom (CHECKMATE). This one sounds more intense, especially thanks to the powerful orchestral influence the producers of the song infused into the chorus. To compliment the chorus, KINGDOM COME teases us with less intense strings in the verses. Their vocals and rapping also fits in really neatly. The second half of the second verse brings in a really stylish and cool electronic-based instrumental break to facilitate a dance break on stage (more on that in a bit). It led to Juyeon’s dance break, which retained the dynamic thumping but opted for strings rather than EDM. The chorus returns, before transitioning with a really cool rough textured electronic sequence to the bridge song, which showcased nice vocals from New, a bit of deep rapping from Sunwoo and a spectacular elongated high note from Sangyeon. This marked an entrance to the final chorus, which I am sure had the same energy levels as the previous chorus. But until this point, KINGDOM COME has been snowballing all its energy to release it during the final chorus to give off an ‘edge of your seat’ vibe. I really like the autotuned ‘Until Kingdom Come‘ line that repeats. I didn’t notice it at first, but I think it added to the suspense that contributed to a really strong ender from The Boyz.

What I really liked about this stage is the pre-recorded footages featured in the performance. As mentioned at the start, this performance wraps up their time on the Kingdom series. In the first pre-recorded footage, we see each individual member wearing a different stage outfit from each of their RTK and Kingdom performances. The second pre-recorded footage we see features Younghoon, who couldn’t physically dance in this performance due to an injury. And the third pre-recorded footage features the members dance in white shirts and black pants while it is raining in the background. These pre-recorded footages were interlaced throughout the stage performance, allowing for different visuals to be in play, similar to how a music video switches between solo shots and choreography scenes. A unique concept and idea. On stage, The Boyz pulled off really both intense and graceful dance breaks (the latter being in a shallow pool of water) and powerful choreography that was captivating to watch. I liked fiery red colour of the stage at the end that showed us their passion.

Final Ranking – 8.7/10


Show And Prove (피날레) – BTOB

What I really like about Show and Prove is how uplifting it sounds. And because of this, it has a very different sound to all the songs by the other participants of Kingdom: Legendary War. I really like the dramatic rock-influence instrumental sequence that kicked off the song, which lead into Peniel’s opening narration to enjoy their stage, Changsub and Eunkwang’s vocal pairing and Minhyuk’s rap sequence. Up until this point, it appears that BTOB had opted for a rock styled instrumental for the song. But what keeps Show and Prove exciting is that they changed up the style for the chorus, opting for a much brighter and warmer melody. The rock influence remains, but it clear the vocals do most of the speaking during the song’s central parts. And while we are on the topic of vocals, the members’ smoothness really sell me this song. You can also feel the passion and energy through their vocals, which makes a really great song to finish their journey on Kingdom with. I particularly commend Changsub, who seems to employ a bit of a musical flair with his vocals in this song. The same structure of rock-dominance in the verses and the warm melodies for the chorus repeats again, repeating the same level of captivation from the first time they did it. The entire bridge and final chorus sequence, consisting of Minhyuk’s vocals, high notes from the members, harmonies between the members in a choir like manner and more of Peniel’s speech, gave me goosebumps and was a really polished finish Show and Prove.

For the final stage, the members of BTOB keep true to themselves and focus on what they know best. They don’t dance or participate in the accompanying choreography. Instead, they showcase their vocals. Despite opting this arrangement in terms of the stage performance, it doesn’t mean it is any less dynamic or impactful. I am sure I have mentioned this somewhere on my blog, but their vocals speak volumes. That being said, the dancers did a lot to give a bit of a wow factor to the stage and I liked how BTOB used the stage for this performance. If I were to nitpick at one aspect, it has to be how the stage was set up for the final sequence. I think some of the dancers should have been in front of the members (who were already on high blocks). I think the stage would have looked better and potentially warmer, as a result to fit the song’s vibes. But overall, a really strong performance by BTOB, who were clever and played with their strengths.

Final Ranking – 9.1/10


At Ease (열중쉬어) – iKON

There was no surprise when I heard At Ease for the first time. It taps into hip-hop, which is iKON’s preferred genre of music whenever they release something. Like most of their songs, the rap is dominant in At Ease, which definitely plays towards their strengths. But based on what I heard, the rapping in At Ease was pretty standard for iKON. Nothing special in that department. Similar comments can be said about the vocals that make up the pre-chorus, though I was glad for some melodic flair in the song. It the last few seconds of the chorus when the song gears up for the chorus drop that starts pulling my attention towards the song. The repetition of the ‘Play Play Play‘, paired with the drumming instrumentation, was a really cool and intense buildup. Then came the chorus, which brought all the energy down. While I do wonder where all that energy those last few seconds had brought to the song, the militaristic vibes and bombastic creates a very powerful atmosphere that I feel iKON could only create. I do think it pairs well with the rapping we get in the verses, even though I did mention they felt standard. Their anthem ending sequence was expected, as it tends to appear in all iKON songs (and have been appearing in their Kingdom stages). And while I do groan at the unoriginality of how they approached the ending, I do find the energy that comes off this sequence to be fitting for this song. It felt like a last hurrah, following all the seriousness that the chorus felt, infusing a bit of freestyle and fun into the song. Personally, At Ease isn’t my preferred song of the bunch. But they definitely infused their roots into the song.

As for the stage, I did like the way they used the fences. From the mini ‘rooms’ created by the fences (like how the cameraman was trapped in at the end of the performance), to how the cameraman shot through the fence to create an edgy effect. I did think they could have taken the stage a step further and made it more interesting. Aside from the fences, there wasn’t much to really talk about. As for the choreography, it was good. Though like the stage, I think more could have been done. I do find their outfits interesting. I would have thought they would have gone something to compliment the militaristic style of the song. But I guess that would have been cliché.

Final Rating – 7/10


Believer (숨) – SF9

SF9 finishes up the final round with Believer. The song comes off as smooth and showcases the charm that SF9 was most successful with during the earlier rounds of Kingdom: Legendary War (i.e. sensual). What I find interesting about Believer is that it is the least bold song out of the bunch. But that might be a good thing on one hand. All the other performances rely on dramatic flair and powerful instrumentation. Believer differentiated itself as a result from the pack, allowing it to become an ‘easy on the ears’ listen, which is definitely appreciable after so many powerful and intense sounds. But on the flip side, it might not be able to standout and become forgotten within the mix of powerful songs. For me, I feel the former (it being a good thing) to be the case here. Though, I do think there is room for the song to be bolder with its instrumentation. The synths in this song are quite stylish and sound like they have never been done before in KPOP. It is almost trippy and hypnotic in a way (combined with the percussion we get in the instrumentation). I find the vocal work to be quite sleek, while the rapping infuse a bit of edge to the song. As for the chorus, the melodies were memorable and catchy. The ‘Tuk Tuk Tuk‘ at the end of each line in the chorus was very addictive.

Of all the six stages, I think SF9’s was the stylish. And that is thanks to that hexagonal mirror structure present, which reflects the stage’s lighting and imagery from the screen. As a result it gives off a really cool effect that takes me back to a few music videos from KPOP’s past. I also like how it wasn’t just a tube, but rather segments that SF9 used really well to reveal members and have them quickly disappear. As for the choreography, SF9’s stage was also pretty cool. I really like the idea of mirroring that was employed in the routine (seen during the start with Hwiyoung and Yoo Taeyang and then again between Chani and Youngbin after first chorus). I am not entirely sure what the story behind the choreography, but it seems like there is a struggle between light and darkness based on the imagery we see on stage. I did wish they brought more of a sensual vibe to the choreography, though. The best part of the stage has be Zuho’s stage presence during his rap sequence, where we saw the light and dark come together in a moment of peace. His outfit was split between the two sides and the contacts he was wearing was quite scary, but at the same time, very memorable.

Final Rating – 8.6/10


And the winner of this round is…

Formal results for the final performances were not provided, with the crowning of the king taking precedence once the performances wrapped up. We did get to see digital results for the final round, but these are based on their rankings on music charts since the release of the songs a week prior to the final episode. The ranking for the digital music points were The Boyz (1st), Stray Kids (2nd), BTOB (3rd), ATEEZ (4th), iKON (5th) and SF9 (6th).

As a result, I have decided to ranking the final performances amongst each other. The table below shows the ranking for the final round only. Keep on scrolling down if you want to find out how I ranked each group’s performance throughout the entire Kingdom: Legendary War series.

Do you agree with my ranking of this round? Comment below if you agree/disagree. Plus include what you think the ranking would have been like!

RankKPOPREVIEWED’s Final Round Ranking
1stBTOB
2ndThe Boyz
3rdSF9
4thStray Kids
5thATEEZ
6thiKON

And the winner of Kingdom: Legendary War is…

And it is the moment you have been waiting for! I will be sure not to going into dramatic pauses, like what Changmin did on Thursday. I did laugh at how quick MNET decided to flash the final results on our screen on Thursday at the very end.

For the most part, I agree with the crowned winner, which was ultimately Stray Kids! But it the rest of the rankings which I for the most part did not agree with, considering how I ranked the performances and stages from all the rounds. You can see the results below!

Do you agree with the shows’ ranking? Or do you agree with mine? Or do you disagree with both and have a different ranking in mind? Let me know in the comments section below!

RankingFinal Kingdom: Legendary War ResultsFinal KPOPREVIEWED Ranking
1stStray KidsStray Kids
2ndThe BoyzBTOB
3rdATEEZATEEZ
4thBTOBThe Boyz
5thiKONSF9
6thSF9iKON

And that’s it! Thank you once again for sticking around for my review and thoughts for Kingdom: Legendary War! While I do have negative thoughts on how MNET operates, I do hope that we get to see more Queendom and Kingdom seasons in the future. Congratulations to all the groups for their amazing performances. Mad respect to all of them and I can’t wait to see all of their future comebacks and works! (Now to get back on track with the reviews…)

Preliminary Round – 100 Second Rundown/Review
1st Round – To The World
2nd Round – RE-BORN
3rd Round – Part A – Collaboration
3rd Round – Part B – NO LIMIT
Final Round – WHO IS THE KING?

[Special] Kingdom: Legendary War Review – NO LIMIT (EP 8 & 9)

Apologies regarding how long this post has taken. The finale rundown should be published by Sunday!

Earlier this month, Kingdom: Legendary War began its run, pitting six well known and high performing male groups against one another for the throne. The Boyz, winner of the prequel season Road To Kingdom last year, is featured as one of these male groups. During the 2020 MAMA Awards, it was confirmed that Stray Kids and ATEEZ will be participating. And in January 2021, it was also confirmed that iKON, BTOB and SF9 will be joining the lineup. It was also confirmed that TVXQ (a name in the industry worthy of the Kingdom title without a doubt) will be hosting, but this was later reduced to just Max Changmin, as Yunho was involved in a scandal and was edited out as much as possible (and will not make an appearance in future rounds).

As I have reviewed part of Queendom and all of Road To Kingdom, I will also be reviewing the stages of Kingdom: Legendary War, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.


Round 3B – NO LIMIT

Round 3 was broadcast over three episodes (Episodes 7, 8 and 9). It was also spilt into two sections. For this post, I will be focusing on the NO LIMIT segment of Round 3. You can see the performance rundown, comparison and results for Round 3A ‘Collaboration’ here.

In this part of the round, each individual group was given the freedom to cover any song they wish. As we are back with six individual performances for each group, I will revert back to the original format of this Special segment.

For this rundown/review of each stage, I will be looking at their song arrangement, concept and overall performance.


Classy Savage – iKON
Original Song/Artist: Pretty Savage – BLACKPINK

There were some slight modifications to the start of iKON’s version of Pretty Savage. You will notice that the instrumentation in iKON’s version has a deeper tone. And some of the lyrics and delivery of lines were changed to fit in with each member’s abilities. I really liked it how they sneakily slipped a swear word into the pre-chorus (in case you didn’t noticed). Expect iKON to do that! The chorus is where the song changes up. I really like the robustness and dynamic percussion alongside the ‘BUM BUM BUM‘ and the new-found intensity the members brought to the ‘You better run run run‘ line in the chorus. The jungle sound inserts (at the start of the song), tribal drumming and cult-like choir we get leading up to the epic featuring of Lisa herself actually worked well with the concept and stage design. I also liked it for the fact it gave a bit of an interesting colour to their version. They maintained their version’s deeper tone when Lisa started her rap sequence, and it made me think that this should have been the tone of BLACKPINK’s version of Pretty Savage to begin with. I think I would have enjoyed the original song more if they had this deep tone to the instrumentation. Following Lisa’s featuring, everything becomes very lively and energetic. I really like the hype feel from the final bit of their stage, which really exuded a lot of energy and made the entire stage more appealing in a last minute pitch.

For the concept, I am not exactly sure how to describe it in one word, so I will split it up. The performance starts with the members watching previous YG performances. (In addition to Winner, BLACKPINK and iKON themselves, we also get some Big Bang – just another hint that these KPOP Kings are working in the background for an upcoming and long awaited comeback). A portal opens up, leading them to this foreign jungle land, before being captured by the people who live there. During the performance, we see the people call upon their Goddess (i.e. Lisa) and the members convert to following this Goddess (hence why their outfits change from casual to golden). I liked the concept and thought it was fun. It is nice to have a less serious concept once in a while.

For the choreography, I didn’t really see anything that new or unfamiliar. They took a number of moves from BLACKPINK’s version and made it look more intense, which fits in with the music. To me, the best bit of the performance has to be Ju-ne’s kick at the end. Other than that, the members relied heavily on stage design and Lisa’s featuring.


God’s DDU-DU DDU-DU – Stray Kids
Original Song/Artist: DDU-DU DDU-DU – BLACKPINK / God’s Menu – Stray Kids

Another BLACKPINK cover, this time Stray Kids is covering BLACKPINK’s debut single, DDU-DU DDU-DU with a surprise. More on that in a bit. Following Felix’s narration and BLACKPINK’s song’s chorus, Changbin comes swinging with his lines. It was an impressive display of his rapping skillset that really sets the bar high for the rest of the performance. The rest of the performance falls into line and continues the momentum that Changbin and the first chorus had set up. I really like the edgy rock feel of the instrumentation that fits so well with BLACKPINK, Stray Kids and the song(s). The next chorus comes along, with a bit of God’s Menu infused into the chorus. How did this occur? Well, God’s Menu has ‘DU DU DU‘ in its chorus, so it was an easy fit. I am glad they didn’t overuse this technique, obviously to preserve BLACKPINK’s song. In addition to the just mentioned, we also get really powerful and dramatic drums, which makes it the cover’s most iconic sequence. I shamelessly rewatch the performance to hear this exact chorus again as it had it all. Felix also brings in some more God’s Menu in his rap sequence, however indirectly, as he threatens mentions Gordan Ramsay who happens to be a Michelin Star Chef (and this latter term is referred to God’s Menu). For the cover’s final sequence, Stray Kids take it to the next level, coming at you with all of this intense and powerful energy that we have yet to see in the competition. They also managed to integrate their tag line ‘Stray Kids all around the world‘, ending a performance that cleverly reminds you of the group and BLACKPINK as well.

For Stray Kids’ stage, I really like the idea of Deadpool and breaking the fourth wall, which Deadpool is notorious for doing in his movies. Felix starts off the performance by narrating the introduction, while Bangchan introduces the final segment of the performance (really like the humour in Bangchan’s segment, pushing down the JYP speech bubble). Not entirely sure of the massive rice cooker that Felix sits on at the start, but I guess that is reference to God’s Menu. I also really like the use of the camera angles to unveil the van, which Felix had stole the smaller version of earlier in the performance.

Breaking the fourth wall also made it into the performance, with Lee Know smiling in a cute fashion whilst all the guns were pointed at him. As for the rest of the performance, it was a powerful routine combining the likes of DDU-DU DDU-DU and God’s Menu. There were also a bunch of other cool moments, such as Felix’s navigating his way through the red laser lines and the ending sequence which saw the members stomping their way to leave a lasting impression.


Blue Moon (Cinema Ver.) – BTOB
Original Song/Artist: Blue Moon – BTOB

Based on commentary from the MC, BTOB would be competing in this round with their own song and it would be a song that has never been performed on stage before. The song in question is Blue Moon, a single written by Minhyuk from their 11th mini-album, This Is Us. When I compare the two versions, it doesn’t seem like much as changed. The jazzy instrumental was retained. If anything, it does sound like it was amplified for the stage. But I think there was a bit a vocal rearrangement to accommodate for the stage performance and the fact that BTOB has been reduced to four members for the competition. I know for a fact that the raps have been changed, while some of the vocal bits have been altered to allow for harmonies and high notes to come through. To me, standout members for this performance was Minhyuk and Eunkwang. Minhyuk’s rapping in this version has a lot of emotional heft, which reflect well with the story they are telling on stage. His singing was so good, as well. As for Eunkwang, his high notes in the final chorus and ending made me go wow and I shared similar reaction to the other participants of the show. It was a solid performance from the group, with a strong showing of skills from each of the members.

For the concept of the performance, it appears BTOB’s stage is influenced by La La Land. Minhyuk, who is only a staff member on the production, is in love with Miyeon (from (G)I-DLE), who has been enlisted to play the actress in this stage. While the feeling is mutual, I think Minhyuk believes that Miyeon has moved on from him and no longer wants to be with him. Changsub plays the actor in this performance and I loved how his character added a bit of comedic relief to the stage based on the way he looks. Peniel is the director, who is extremely passionate, while Eunkwang is a singer in the production. Fast-forwarding through the stage, Minhyuk makes his thoughts apparent, while Miyeon assures him that she still loves him. They make up and hug (for a moment there, they looked like they were going to kiss) to end the performance. A happy ending for the main characters.

As for the performance aspect, I thought the performance was quite pleasant. Nothing that amazing in terms of choreography, but it was still worth watching. BTOB allowed their vocals and rapping to be the main star, once again emphasising that different dynamic the group was bringing along to the competition from the very start. I liked how the ending came together to be a big song and dance. It is a bit cliché, but it was a nice way to end the performance and bring everything together.


Answer: Ode To Joy – ATEEZ
Original Song/Artist: Answer – ATEEZ

Out of all the stages we saw in this episode, I have to admit that ATEEZ was the most epic and powerful. The energy they brought to the stage in just the music alone for this version of Answer blew me away. They also really knew how to amplify Answer and upgrade it a whole new level. The logical answer to this was a rock instrumentation, given that we all had the feeling that Answer was the perfect vessel for this sound. The post-chorus hook was definitely the original’s best bit and I was grateful that while also intensifying it, they retained the appeal of this section. What was really interesting about this version of Answer was despite the thrilling momentum of the rock sound, they cut it completely to make way for a bit of classical opera. La Poem was featured to deliver this opera. It was a brief interlude before an intense drumming to bring back and rock influences with the opera together. It was the best bit of the performance. Like all the performances of ATEEZ we have seen thus far, Jongho brings in a really cool high note. Not to put pressure on him, however, but I felt it should have been followed up with another high note as the music felt somewhat empty afterwards. I think that would have been this performance’s ‘icing on the cake’ if it had happened. Hongjoong’s rap sequence while blindfolded was the next iconic part of this performance. This performance of Answer hit the mark and showed us that there was no limits in creating this version of this song.

I think the concept was the weakest point of the performance. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. My best guess, based from the start, is that the white-masked dancers captured one of the members, so ATEEZ and the hat-wearing counterparts went to rescue him from these white-masked bandits. Fighting ensues, but the rescue was successful and the enemies were defeated. I really like how the opera singers were unveiled on stage.

The epicness carried over into their performance. It was super intense, especially in the rock instrumented sequences. I also like the choreographed fight scene in the final moments. I did think it could have been a bit more convincing. I also wished the performance did end on bland feel. We had all this amazing energy preceding it, just to see the member walk up the steps and stare back all serious into the camera.


Move – SF9
Original Song/Artist: Move – Taemin (SHINee)

The most surprising stage of the round was SF9’s take on Move. It is sexy sounding song and I feel that SF9 really encapsulated this, whilst also creating a sound of their own in this performance. Chani’s deep voice begins the performance with a brief yet sharp instrumental piece. Dawon and Jaeyoon then brings sultry vocals to the mix, before we are taken to the chorus which is lead by Yoo Taeyang and Inseong. The slow but sensual pace of Taemin’s original version of Move features here. The rappers (Hwiyoung, Youngbin and Zuho) of the group start bringing more upbeat and metrosexual vibes in their sections through the instrumentation and delivery, whilst also maintaining the sensual atmosphere that the other members had created. After Zuho’s part (which was also my favourite), an electronic based instrumental interlude gave the performance/version some intensity that can only be passed through a dance break, before we are provided an upbeat version of the Move‘s chorus that fits into what SF9’s version has built towards. I really enjoyed SF9’s take on such an iconic KPOP song, so much that I have returned to listen and rewatch the stage so many times after the show’s broadcast.

For the concept of this performance, I believe the setting is a factory that produced robots that wore white and very generic. But the SF9 members were incorrectly made, wearing black and were completely different to the robots the factory originally manufacturing. I also like how the settings were bland and monotone. But with SF9 present, colour started to come through. It was gradual, but made for a really great stage. I really like the rain of coloured confetti during the final dance sequence, and the rain room they had created off the stage to further highlight the group’s sexiness. This was a really unique performance and one that shows off a different charm of the members.

We all know Move for its sexy moves, but I feel that SF9 took it further with their outfits and sensual moves on those steps. It was definitely a breathtaking performance to watch. Chani’s entrance was so smooth. I would have liked to see more references to Taemin’s original choreography, but I think they did fantastic with creating their own, especially to match the upbeat moments of the final chorus. And when they are not dancing, the members are strutting their stuff on the stage as you could see during Hwiyoung and Zuho’s parts.


Monster (Stormborn) – The Boyz
Original Song/Artist: Monster – EXO

The final performance was The Boyz’s take on EXO’s Monster. While the melodies for the vocals parts remained the same between version, the instrumentals for The Boyz’s version was remixed to enable the 11-member male group to perform the song to the calibre of the Kingdom’s stage. And while I do like the performance, I am not a major fan of the shrilly-like synth they had in the chorus. It wasn’t off-putting, but it just didn’t sit right for me. But everything else in their version was good. I really like the rapping, which gave the song a more edgy and powerful touch (which I felt was needed – more on this in a bit). The EDM used for the dance break really showed performance flair and their ability to intensify an pre-existing intense track. I really like the guitar and the melodic drumming (at the end of the instrumental piece) they used in the dance break, which gave the instrumental break an interesting centre-piece. I think if I were to nitpick at one thing, it would be the intensification. I felt the producers of this version could have taken it a step further and made the music bolder and more defined. This would have brought it up to the same energy levels as other performances in this round and would have made The Boyz sound and look more powerful on stage.

Once again, the performance references an episode from Games Of Throne. Once again, I am not entirely sure what Game of Thrones reference I am seeing in the performance (as I have yet to see it). It is probably an obvious reference, like the massive serpent that they brought to life. But even not knowing the Games of Throne reference, I have to commend The Boyz for another performance that can still be appreciated by itself. Like how amazing was the second dance break of the performance, with the members dancing in front of that projected imagery, which is followed by the massive serpent on stage. Definitely a memorable performance.

The choreography also had a memorable feel. Even while I think the performance could have been intensified on the music front, you could tell the members put their all into the choreography to ensure that they make up for that additional intensity. Each dance break we saw in this performance saw the members go above and beyond, showcasing their performance abilities (without the dearly missed stunts) that stole our attention back during the Road To Kingdom days.


And the winner for this round is…

This was a really hard episode to rank because each stage was amazing in their own right. If I had the ability to, I would have given each stage the top rank. But as there are six groups, I had to rank them from 1st to 6th (hey, I don’t make the rules :P), based on what I saw. This is shown on the right hand side of the table below.

As the show have yet to finalise the official rankings of the round (as global voting and YouTube views were still being determined), the show has only released the rankings per the expert (left hand side of the table) and the self-evaluation (middle columns).

Do you agree with my ranking, the participants’ ranking of the performances or the expert panel’s ranking of the performances? Let me know in the comments below.

RankingKingdom: Legendary War Ranking from Expert PanelRankingKingdom: Legendary War Ranking from Self-EvaluationRankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Ranking
1stStray Kids1st (TIE)SF91stSF9
2ndSF91st (TIE)BTOB2ndStray Kids
3rdThe Boyz2nd (TIE)iKON3rdATEEZ
4thBTOB2nd (TIE)Stray Kids4thThe Boyz
5th (TIE)iKON2nd (TIE)The Boyz5thiKON
5th (TIE)ATEEZ3rdATEEZ6thBTOB

Previously: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – Round 3A – Collaboration
Next up: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – FINALE – Who Is The King?

[Special] Kingdom: Legendary War – Round 3A – Collaboration – EP 7 & 8

Apologies regarding how long this post has taken. The second part of the next round’s rundown should be out tomorrow!

Earlier this month, Kingdom: Legendary War began its run, pitting six well known and high performing male groups against one another for the throne. The Boyz, winner of the prequel season Road To Kingdom last year, is featured as one of these male groups. During the 2020 MAMA Awards, it was confirmed that Stray Kids and ATEEZ will be participating. And in January 2021, it was also confirmed that iKON, BTOB and SF9 will be joining the lineup. It was also confirmed that TVXQ (a name in the industry worthy of the Kingdom title without a doubt) will be hosting, but this was later reduced to just Max Changmin, as Yunho was involved in a scandal and was edited out as much as possible (and will not make an appearance in future rounds).

As I have reviewed part of Queendom and all of Road To Kingdom, I will also be reviewing the stages of Kingdom: Legendary War, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.

Round 3A – Collaboration

Round 3 was broadcast over three episodes (Episodes 7, 8 and 9). It was also spilt into two sections. For this post, I will be focusing on Collaboration segment of Round 3.

In Round 3A, three groups were pitted against the other three groups in various battles such as rap, dance and vocals. The teams of groups as follows:

  • Stray Kids, BTOB, ATEEZ (named themselves Mayfly)
  • The Boyz, iKON, SF9 (named themselves It’s One)

For this particular post, things will be a little different. I won’t focusing on the six performance individually. Instead, I will be comparing each performance in their respective battles, as there are only two performances (i.e. Mayflys vs. Its One). As a result, this post will be shorter than usual.

I will also summarise the final rankings for each battle decided by the experts who watch the performances, whilst also give out my own personal ranking to who should have won each battle in my opinion.


Rap Battle

Colours (물감놀이) – Mayfly

Members: Han Jisung, Changbin, Bangchan (Stray Kids), Minhyuk (BTOB), Hongjoong (ATEEZ)

Full DaSH – It’s One

Members: Sunwoo (The Boyz), Bobby (iKON), Hwiyoung (SF9)

Going into this round, I had a hard time predict who would succeed. On one hand, you had Bobby. For those who don’t know Bobby, he is probably the most well known rapper out of the bunch. Then, we have 3RACHA from Stray Kids, who have put out really strong and powerful rap songs as a unit before. And then, we have Minhyuk, who is an all-rounder but started off as a powerful rapper in BTOB. For Sunwoo, Hwiyoung and Hongjoong, I am not familar with their solo work to really influence my prediciton.

For the performances, both was quite lively. Colours was vibrant and colourful, while Full DaSH was edgy and stylish. Colours felt like a performance, based on their ending pose, stage set ups and the presence of choreography. I like the inclusion of the traditional instrumentation in the background. There was a bit of a free spirit to the performance, but it wasn’t as prevalent as Full DaSH. On the other hand, Full DaSH was relied on a heap of freestyling. There was some choreography and stage set up, but all was minimal in comparison to the other performance. I really like the paint gun sequence at the end of the Full DaSH performance. It was an element of fun and really showed how unconstrained the performance was. In terms of execution, I feel both are on par with each other. The five members in Colours helped give the track a catchy ring. I also find Minhyuk’s exclamation “We all bleed the same colour” to be very deep. For Full DaSH, I felt the energy behind the trio’s delivery to be very powerful and memorable.

In the end, I lean towards Colours as my favourite performance out of the two. It is more aligned to what I like and enjoy in general. That being said, Full DaSH was terrific in its own way.

RankKingdom RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Ranking
1stColours – Mayfly Colours – Mayfly
2ndFull DaSH – It’s One Full DaSH – It’s One

Dance Battle

Wolf – Mayfly

Members: Lee Know, I.N, Felix (Stray Kids), Peniel (BTOB), San, Seonghwa, Yeosang, Wooyoung, Yunho
(ATEEZ)

King and Queen – It’s One

Members: Juyeon (The Boyz), Donghyuk (iKON), Yoo Taeyang (SF9)

Wolf was an unexpected surprise. I thought that the members of ATEEZ, BTOB and Stray Kids would come together to form their own routine to a unique song for themselves. I would have appreciated the innovation and creativity a lot more, but Wolf was still an amazing performance. I really like how they took to EXO’s version of Wolf and made it even more animinalistic and wilder. It show cases the edgy and dangerous side of the members. It was also great to see stunts reappear in the competition. There hasn’t been many so far. When Felix did the run up and jumped onto San, I was floored by how he kept his exposure despite the landing being slightly rocky and committed to the part. I also really like Peniel’s solo part, showcasing some of his dance skills – something we don’t see too much of.

King and Queen was an instrumental piece, and as far as I am concerned, it was made for this performance. I liked the innovation and creativity of this performance. It starts off as the three members on their chairs, before jumping off and giving us a solo performance each over some electrifying guitar instrumentals. We then see a really graceful performance from the trio together, before we see in the distance the queen is assasinated. Throughout the performance, you could see the emotions in their moves or on their faces. If you know me, emotions make up a very large part of the stage presence. And while each of the three members had a different way of showcasing emotions, they all made sure it was there. Yoo Taeyang had a really cool sword fight solo scene, but I personally could not get over how we caught the sword without any dramas. Juyeon’s table flip was very impressive as well. Donghyuk also had an awesome solo scene, though nothing memorable pinged from it. I also liked how they used stage tricks to reintroduce the other two members to end the performance.

I liked both performances. But I felt that It’s One had the edge in this battle. They showed many sides of themselves and a wider range of moves, such as from powerful to graceful. Wolf was great in itself, but I felt like more could have been done to captivate us, as did King and Queen.

RankKingdom RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Ranking
1stWolf – MayflyKing & Queen – It’s One
2ndKing & Queen – It’s One Wolf – Mayfly

Dance Battle

Love Poem – Mayfly
Original Artist: IU

Members: Seungmin (Stray Kids), Eunkwang (BTOB), Jongho (ATEEZ)

Spark – It’s One
Original Artist: Taeyeon

Members: New, Sangyeon (The Boyz), Ju-ne, Jinhwan (iKON), Inseong, Jaeyoon (SF9)

Spark (by It’s One) was a good cover of Taeyeon’s song. Personally, I feel like Spark was an unexpected choice for a cover, especially for this battle. I can’t really pinpoint an exact reason to why I feel this way. It just felt odd. Song choice aside, I really like it when the members came together to sing together for its climax. It made the cover more captivating. Per usual, I wanted more of that. And harmonies, as well. If the harmonies were more prevalent and present, then I feel like Its One cover of Spark would have been more memorable. There was also a good amount of huskiness and raspiness behind some of their vocals. While we got to hear their voices very clearly (especially since none of the members have really had a solo platform yet) and they all sounded great as a team, no one really stood out for me. That might be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Good in the sense that no one member took over the song and outshone in the rest. Bad in the sense that it felt too neutral. In this case, I feel like the latter seems to be the case. It is a pity that Inseong couldn’t pull off his high note. I feel like it would have lifted the performance to a whole new level if it was successful.

The Love Poem cover was stunning and grand, featuring the balance of the three groups that make up of Mayfly (with the exception of Changsub, who sat out due to being unwell). I don’t have much to say about this cover, aside from expressing how good it was. While I can’t really comment on show-stopping melodies of IU’s Love Poem (as the original had already them), what made this cover so great is that it had the harmonies that I wanted to hear. Those harmonies and high notes just made the entire performance captivating and blissful to listen to. I felt as if I was floating while listening to the song, which is an impressive feat to achieve, especially since I really enjoys my ballads. If I were to be critical, I would have liked to see Jongho shine a bit more. We know he has an impressive set of lungs based on the performances on the show thus far. I just felt he didn’t really have his moment to really shine in this cover, compared to Seungmin and Eunkwang.

Based on the language I had used to describe each of the performances, I think it is clear that I lean towards Mayfly’s cover of Love Poem.

RankKingdom RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Ranking
1stLove Poem – MayflyLove Poem – Mayfly
2ndSpark – It’s OneSpark – It’s One

Previously: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – Round 2 – To The World
Next up: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – Round 3B – NO LIMIT

[Special] Kingdom: Legendary War Review – RE-BORN (EP 4 and 5)

Apologies regarding how long this post has taken. The first part of the next round’s rundown should be out shortly!

Earlier this month, Kingdom: Legendary War began its run, pitting six well known and high performing male groups against one another for the throne. The Boyz, winner of the prequel season Road To Kingdom last year, is featured as one of these male groups. During the 2020 MAMA Awards, it was confirmed that Stray Kids and ATEEZ will be participating. And in January 2021, it was also confirmed that iKON, BTOB and SF9 will be joining the lineup. It was also confirmed that TVXQ (a name in the industry worthy of the Kingdom title without a doubt) will be hosting, but this was later reduced to just Max Changmin, as Yunho was involved in a scandal and was edited out as much as possible (and will not make an appearance in future rounds).

As I have reviewed part of Queendom and all of Road To Kingdom, I will also be reviewing the stages of Kingdom: Legendary War, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.

Round 2 – RE-BORN

Round 2 was broadcast over episode 4 and 5 of the new season, occuring on the 22nd and 29th of April. The brief of Round 2 was titled ‘RE-BORN’, which each group got the opportunity to cover a song released by a fellow participant. Each group had the opportunity to not only recreate a fellow group’s song as their own, but also perform it on stage.

Per usual, live voting opened after the 5th episode to allows for fans to vote for their favourite stages. YouTube views, epert ranking and self-evaluation were taken into account for this round.

I will be reviewing the performances based on who went first, and will be looking at song arrangement, concept and choreography for this round.


The Stealer (The Scene) – SF9
Original artist: The Boyz

I really like how SF9 transformed The Stealer. The new instrumental is made of distinct sounding pieces that all piece together to bring you a suspenseful performance. The performance may be influencing my perception of this, however I think it was well executed. The new instrumentation starts off with Rowoon (welcome back to Rowoon, who has been absent from the performances due to an injury) and Dawon with a really slow and sensual introduction, brought to life with their smooth vocals. Jaeyoon, Youngbin, Yoo Taeyang and Inseong follows up with the first verse of the original song, over an instrumentation that feels like like subtly suspense moments before an unexpected action season in movies. The chorus comes into play and we get an R&B influenced dance instrumentation here. Zuho starts off the second verse, rapping in an angsty way to match his fight scene on stage. The instrumentation kicks up a notch here, becoming more upbeat. Chani follows up briefly, before an instrumental break comes into play featuring funky guitars. Inseong and Hwiyoung’s solo parts brings some stillness to the song and unnerving energy, which is ultimately followed up with an electrifying dance sequence and a final chorus sequence that brings everything together into one. All the vocal work and the rapping reflected well with the different sequences. And while SF9’s style was definitely featured throughout this performance, the original essence of The Stealer was not lost.

Concept-wise, SF9’s visual take on The Stealer was one of the best of the round. The members are all working together as part of a gang to steal the crown that was locked away at the start. And as part of the storyline of stealing that crown, fighting is invovled to get that crown in their hands. Regarding staging, you can tell that FNC Entertainment and SF9 are no longer bound by any financial constraints. You can tell that they really went all out with this performance. I really like the shipping container set-up they had in the background, giving the stage that edgy persona. Their outfits (and in the case of Daewon and Jaeyoon – lack thereof), the props and some of the special effects (tourching someone on fire and shooting at one of the stage structures to make it fall down) all created a really cool and intense atmosphere.

And you cannot talk about this stage without talking about the choreography. I really liked how they creatively choreographed the fight scenes into the routine, especially when it came to Zuho’s solo. That was an amazing sequence. So was the dance break, which saw flips from Chani, Youngbin and Yoo Taeyang. We also saw more cool fight scenes invovling Jaeyoon and Zuho afterwards, topping everything we saw previously in this performance.


O Sole Mio (The Red Wedding) – The Boyz
Original Artist: SF9

We all probably know O Sole Mio for being a Latin influenced song in SF9’s discography. So it was interesting to see how The Boyz would transform it. What I really liked about this version is that it didn’t stray away from its original style. Instead, it seems to concentrate it, tapping into the world of tango. This was a fresh take on the song without it going into any foreign territory or lose the aesthetic of the original version. While the first verse and chorus felt the same as the original, Sunwoo’s rapping is where this version started to have it own appeal. His rap sequence was so clean and well-executed, giving The Boyz’s version an edgy vibe. From then on, the song became The Boyz’s. I really like how they substituted the second chorus for an instrumental piece to fit in a dance break. This is followed by another dance break featuring Juyeon and the female dancer that brings together some tango and the theme of Games of Thrones. The final chorus comes soon after, bringing everything to a climatic ending. Personally, I wished each member got more lines. I noticed a lot of members had a one-liner in this performance. But obviously to fit everything in, some lines probably had to be sacrificed. But aside from that, it was a solid cover.

For the concept, obviously The Red Wedding was the main attraction. I don’t know if there were any Game of Throne references on stage, as I haven’t watched the series at all yet (and probably will never watch it, given my track record of starting TV shows that are big in mainstream pop culture). The emphasis on the colour red and the sun/fire made this a really cool stage to watch. I also really like the idea of the cage, which was a stunning setting for the many dance sequences we saw in this performance.

Performance wise, this is The Boyz’s best one so far on the Kingdom: Legendary War. There were so many cool moments. Firstly, Juyeon and the female dancer’s tango moments I found it so epic when he started to climb the cage. Secondly, the passing of the rod during what was supposed to be the second chorus. Thirdly, the final chorus, with all the members. I really liked how the closeness of the setssurrounding them, lighting and confetti all made the stage look and feel climatic, like the song. Hyunjae’s bow catching at the very end was very sleek as well.


Inception (iKON ver.) – iKON
Original artist: ATEEZ

It isn’t iKON if there wasn’t hip-hop infused into a song, regardless of it being their own or a cover. For iKON’s version of Inception, they really took the round’s rules and transformed Inception into something they would have released. I liked how they kept the first verse as the constant between the original and their version, along with the bridge of the song. Usually, it is the chorus or hook that you would keep intact if you were to make the song your own, as that is what fans and listeners would recongise. But based on how perform this version, you can tell they are confident that fans and listeners (especially ATINYs) would recognise it. For me, I am actually glad that they kept the bridge of the song intact, as it a memorable part of the original that I now recongise and it also builds really well towards the final chorus. Moving along, it is the final seconds of the pre-chorus that iKON’s style peeks through, hyping us towards a hypnotic and different style chorus that is fitting with their stage concept. It also twists the song into something that you would not expect. It doesn’t really capitalise on any of the iconic nature of the original’s chorus, but you must admit that it has its charm. As expected, the song ends with a hype style outro, which is very YG and iKON. It definitely ends the song on an upbeat note. I also like how the final chorus slows down completely at first, emphasising that hypnotic factor that they began with. My only peeve with the performance came during Bobby’s rap sequence. He was out of time and ended up skipping a few lines. I know he was very into the performance and looked like he was enjoying his time. But it is things like this that really stick out and could potentially make or break a performance.

iKON took the opportunity and went with it. Their stage was based on the movie Inception. Go figure! Wow was the reaction I gave when I watched this performance for the first time, especially as the buildings all moved and the road was raised, like in the movie. But if that wasn’t obvious, then spinning top at the end should have been the last clue to give it away. Aside from really cool stage design and technology, I really liked the trippy camera effect that appeared during Bobby’s verse.

Obviously with a new chorus and unique stage design, the original choreography just couldn’t seem to be brought over. It is slightly disappointing. But as soon as iKON inserted their influence into the song, it seemed right that they departed from the original choreography. What iKON ended up doing looked really cool, especially when it came to that complete slow down at the start of the final chorus.


Rhythm Ta (The Awakening of Summer) – ATEEZ
Original artist: iKON

Kicking off ATEEZ’s Rhythm Ta performance is Seonghwa and Wooyoung’s whispering. It was barely audible, but it got me interested in the performance. When it came to the verses, I really liked the exciting energy that you could feel was building up in the background. This is all thanks to ATEEZ’s version having this upbeat and energerised kick to it which I find really appealing. Yeosang’s ‘We’re gon get it, pop it‘ just before the chorus was quite addicting, especially when it layered over dramatic and suspenseful violins. For the chorus, I am not a major fan of the metallic/shrilling synth they used. Though, I acknowledge that it gave a platform for them to show a great performance. I liked how they maintained Rhythm Ta‘s one-liner hook for the chorus, which also allowed to showcase an even more impressive set of moves. The chorus if then followed up with a bit of an instrumental interlude, featuring latin styled brass. This was carried through to Hongjoong’s rap sequence, before rock influences peeked through the vocals parts of the second verse. To me, the odd ball in the performance is the presence of the brass. While I thought it add a nice touch, I think it could have been swapped out for something more electrifying to fit in with the rest of the performance and instrumentation. Both the violins and rock influences returned a little later to followup Hongjoong’s speech (which gave me goosebumps) and complimented the energy and power Jongho was inserting into the song through his vocals and dramatic first high note. For the final chorus, ATEEZ really amped up the instrumentation giving us a chance to witness a really thrilling sequence and Jongho’s second high note. We all know that I am a sucker for high notes, and Jongho’s always are top notch!

For me, I didn’t pick up that this was based on or influenced by Money Heist. Mainly because I haven’t watched the series. But even without knowing it was based on Money Heist, you can tell that ATEEZ clearly portrayed the idea of a heist at the start, stealing back all the art and instruments that were taken away from them. By the end of the video, the group was starting a revolution, opening the eyes of the dancers who were once against the group to be with the group in the final moments, creating a really cool ending for the performance with everyone on board.

Performance wise, charisma from the members came through. Notable mention has to go to San, for his part at the start of the performance and the centre during the final chorus. I also really liked the twists and turns they managed to pull off in the choruses, and how they quickly moved between cameras (evident in the first chorus sequence). The ending, while it was chaotic, was also quite organised, but yet it still actually complimented the intense energy we got. It was a great performance.


Back Door – BTOB
Original artist: Stray Kids

In BTOB’s version of Back Door, I really liked how they mixed four different styles into their version. The song starts off with Changsub, whose sequence brought a bit of rock to the mix. This is followed up by Minhyuk’s sequence which featured a very sensual R&B sequence. Peniel brings in a bit of upbeat and energetic hip-hop flair, before Eunkwang brings in his power vocals during his more pop-ballad like approach to the song. While I like that each member got to show off their own indivdual colours, the performance is at its best when it all four members of BTOB join forces with one another. This occurs when the bridge of Back Door comes into play, combining the pop and rock sequences above to finish the song in a thrilling and exciting manner that iterates to me why Back Door is such a good song. Eunkwang and Changsub’s high notes and harmonies really gave the performance the peak it needed, while I was glad to hear Peniel got more lines than usual!

BTOB’s stage was quite clever. The main concept of the performance is that the four are stars (as they are) getting ready for a great performance. The first half of the stage is a ‘back stage’ setting, as we visit each member preparing for their upcoming stage. I really like how they kept the Back Door knocks in this part, which really keeps that nostalgic factor of Stray Kids song within BTOB’s version. The second half of the stage is when the members are finished getting ready and make their way onto the stage, where a big crowd is awaiting their performance. They proceed to perform like the superstars they are.

The first half of the peroformance didn’t have much choreography. They were committed to the concept of being back stage, and any choreography would have been a little too ‘staged’. The second half was were BTOB showed off their performance skills, bringing some of Stray Kid’s iconic moments within their Back Door routine to their stage (i.e. Minhyuk knocking on the door while Peniel stands in front him, the arches formed by the dancers for BTOB to knock and walk through). And at the very end, we see Minhyuk rip off his singlet, giving the stage its iconic moment in itself. Everything from stage, concept and performance was amazing to watch and it is the main reason why I continually return to this performance each week.


Pray (I’ll Be Your Man) – Stray Kids
Original artist: BTOB

Pray was one track I was hoping would be performed on the show, by BTOB or any of the other participants. It is such a great song, showing off vocals, rapping and performance skills in one succinct 3 minute hit. Stray Kids brings a mashed up dance and orchestral touch to their version, more so than the original version by BTOB. It isn’t a mind-blowing or innovative combination, but managed to hit the brief with the song. The song starts off with Seungmin’s vocals, who successfully pulls off the first impressive set of vocals. Han Jisung follows up with more vocals, surprising everyone with his vocal ability despite being a rapper of the group. A geniune surprise for those who may not be all too familiar with the rest of the group. Changbin follows with a very emotionally charged rap sequence that really steals your attention. The chorus comes into play and is brought to life by Han Jisung and Lee Know. For the second verse, the rappers (Jisung and Changbin) return and they captialise on Felix’s deep voice for this performance, who happens to also voice the Devil in this performance (I believe). A literal smashing instrumental break came upon us before we return to the actual song. Pray’s highlight is the rapping and vocal layering peak, and I am so glad that Stray Kids kept that in its original form. Like how BTOB slayed us back then, Stray Kids does the exact same. It is a pity that I.N voice broke, otherwise I am sure it would have been an amazing high note to end the performance on. I feel that the weakest point of the song arrangement had to be the second verse. I didn’t know what was really happening when Felix voiced the Devil and it felt detached from the rest of the performance. Likewise, I would have liked to see something with a little more energy and intensity for the dance break. Aside from the actual smashing we got, it felt somewhat plain.

For the stage, we are given a story about a young boy. I would have liked a bit more context, as I felt there are gaps in the story. Why was Felix getting dragged my angels? Were they trying to show him becoming possessed by the Devil? But anyway, Felix retrieves a heart and they place it into the young boy’s statue hand to bring the young boy back to life, after he saved Changbin from dying in the past. For what reason they plan on bringing him back for is unclear and hence a bit more context would have been nice.

The choreography was quite good. I liked how they included more to the original choreography. The first half of the performance was more so about the story, while the second half was the actual choreography. I liked the set up of the first chorus. And I like how the members who were not singing and rapping during the bridge were dancing with the dancers, unlike in the original where the BTOB members who were not part of that sequence were just kneeling and praying. The dance break was nice and I really like how they broke the set in their choreography.


And the winner was….

Because I waited around for so long, all the points (mentioned above) were calculated and tallied to give definite rankings for the second round. Below is a table with two columns. The left hand side of the table shows the ranking from the show once it was finalised, while the right hand side of the table shows the my personal ranking of teams.

Do you agree with my rankings, or the shows rankings? Comment below and let me know! If you disagree, comment your ranking below as well!

RankingKingdom: Legendary War Final Ranking for Round 2KPOPREVIEWED’s Ranking
1stATEEZBTOB
2ndBTOBSF9
3rdSF9The Boyz
4thStray KidsStray Kids
5thiKONATEEZ
6thThe BoyziKON

Previously: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – Round 1 – To The World
Next up: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – Round 3A – Collaboration

[Special] Kingdom: Legendary War Review – To The World (EP 2 and 3)

Apologies regarding how long this post has taken. The next round’s rundown should be out this week!

Earlier this month, Kingdom: Legendary War began its run, pitting six well known and high performing male groups against one another for the throne. The Boyz, winner of the prequel season Road To Kingdom last year, is featured as one of these male groups. During the 2020 MAMA Awards, it was confirmed that Stray Kids and ATEEZ will be participating. And in January 2021, it was also confirmed that iKON, BTOB and SF9 will be joining the lineup. It was also confirmed that TVXQ (a name in the industry worthy of the Kingdom title without a doubt) will be hosting, but this was later reduced to just Max Changmin, as Yunho was involved in a scandal and was edited out as much as possible (and will not make an appearance in future rounds).

As I have reviewed part of Queendom and all of Road To Kingdom, I will also be reviewing the stages of Kingdom: Legendary War, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.

Round 1 – To The World

Round 1 was broadcast over episode 2 and 3 of the new season, occuring on the 8th and 15th April. Round 1 is titled ‘To The World‘. In this round, the groups are able to performed a revamped version of one or two of their past hits. Included alongside the revamped version, the groups also had the opportunity to bring them to life with never seen before stages.

After the broadcast of episode 3, live voting opened allowing fans to vote for their favourite performance. The official results of that will be shown at the end of this post, along with my personal ranking from this round.

Round 1 was unfortuate quite problematic thanks to a communication error between MNET and the indivdual companies. Only three of the six companies were notified that the budget for the round was increased. Watching the performances below, you can see three of the performances utilising the extra cash, while the other three performances did not (as they were not aware). Obviously, this raised concerned regarding bias behind the scenes, which MNET has denied and apologised for. Rules were altered for subsequent rounds. While I will try to consider this issue in my ranking, I will admit it will be hard given how bold and high calibre the advantaged performances were. But I will try my best.

I will be reviewing the performances based on who went first, and will be looking at song arrangement, concept and choreography for this round.


No Air (A Song of Fire and Ice) – The Boyz

First up, I am so happy that The Boyz (or someone in the competition) chose to perform No Air. It is one of my favourites. I really enjoyed the dramatic and theatric side of the arrangement, thanks to the use of the classical instrumentation. It is very different from their electronic synths they used in the original version. I also like how different the song sounded on the vocal front, with the changes also affecting the member’s delivery of their vocal and rapping line. For the most part, I really liked the softer moments of the arrangement and few growls. But I am disappointed by the lack of the impactful ‘No Air‘ hook. It was altered to fit in with the song, but briefly. But it just doesn’t have the same effect. I wished that was retained that resembles the highlight version, keeping to this more dramatic flair the arrangement had opted for.

As for the concept, I am not exactly sure what they are going with. My best guess, and this comes after their Round 2 performance, is that they are going with a Games of Throne concept. I never watched the series (I know, feel free to gasp), so I can’t really make much of an association between show and stage. I really enjoyed the ice and snow side of the performance, represented by the snow and the blue on the screen behind them, while fire was represented by the flaming props and orange red colour we see on screen. I also really enjoyed how the members interacted with said props.

As for the choreography, I thought it was good but not best of the bunch. There really wasn’t much in the performance that stood out for me, when I compare this performance to the other performances. But there were some memorable moments including the gracefulness and elegance of the first chorus, the lineup of members that appeared in the second verse with the female jewelled hand, and Juyeon’s performance with the white sheet. Noticeably absent were the stunts that The Boyz commonly does.


Love Scenario & Killing Me (Kingdom Version) – iKON

IKON is one of the two groups in the competition to blend two of their own songs for this round. The first half was Love Scenario, which started off as a passionate performance. But when the iconic chorus comes into play, iKON takes an unexpected turn towards a really happy and upbeat version of their infamous song. I am very used to seeing iKON in hip-hop mode and not musical mode. The second half of the performance, after some thunder and sirens, takes a turn. Gone are the happy tunes and hello serious and moody tunes. iKON brings in Killing Me, which already has me excited as that is my favourite title track from them. While the second half had dynamism, I wished they did more on the music front. Like their remix of the song and the parts picked from the original were all great. I just wished they had upgraded Killing Me‘s killing parts and also find a way to tie the elements of this part together in a neater fashion.

Their concept is pretty straight forward. Musical influenced at the start and grungy boy band in the second half. While iKON was on the performances that got the short end of the stick, they made good use of the props to really showcase those two profiles.

Another great performance. We got to see really upbeat moves that fit that musical profile that Love Scenario opted for. We got to see really dynamic moves for the second half, fitting for Killing Me and its remix. I did wish they didn’t opt for the anthem style approach for the latter part of Killing Me. I know they did it in the original, but I think it could have been upgraded, as well.


Missing You (Threatre Version) – BTOB

Expectations were high for BTOB’s performance. And I think they really hit those expectations. BTOB also went for a theatrical version of Missing You, but also maintains the balladry side of the song. Interestingly, they didn’t do a whole lot to the song to give it a new face lift. There were still some new and different aspects to this version, compared to the original. But what I loved about this performance was how it still gave off that same warm and soothing impression, just like the original did. I liked how they incorporated various additional instruments into the song’s instrumental (I think there was a mix of contemporary and folksy instrumentation add to the song). I also liked how they gave each a member a distinct part. Eunkwang and Changsub showing off their vocals. Minhyuk and Peniel adding their passionate rapping to the mix. The harmonies between the members helped make this stunning performance.

Concept wise, I think the group brought in a mix of traditional Korean imagery and added that theatrical aspect to the performance. It really isn’t anything special, but the stage still looks quite aesthetic. From the trees to the screens, BTOB made good use of what they had to make it look beautiful. I also really like their traditional styled outfits.

There wasn’t much choreography for this performance. BTOB opted to focus on vocals, which was the main point of the original song though. However, Missing You‘s sign language choreography made it into this performance and Minhyuk had a really strong showing of his performance skills when it came to that sword-fighting scene.


Jasin (Oneself ‘Ja’, Ghost ‘Sin’) – Stray Kids
Songs: Side Effects & God’s Menu

Stray Kids was the second and final group to combine two songs into the one performance. The first half of the performance was dedicated to Side Effects, which was a rearranged into a really eerie and haunting sequence. I wished it was longer as this was a whole different energy to the original version of Side Effects. The whipsery vocals and rapping of the original version were brought into this version untouched, showing how fitting their delivery is for this new side. In particular, Felix’s deep voice was made for this! Side Effects was brief, however. The main spectacle of this performance was God’s Menu, which they really intensifed in this arrangement, especially when we were first thrown into it. I liked how the rest of the performance, the amplified instrumentation kept us on the edge of our seat (or on out toes), adding a thrilling element to what already was a striking song to begin with. Side Effects returned briefly before the performance wrapped up, bringing in its killing part alongside God’s Menu, which makes this powerful and energetic performance to watch.

I really like the controlling concept. The first half of the performance, we see the dancers controlling the members. We see the dancers control Lee Know’s moves, hypnotize Jisung and act as puppet masters. However, Felix fiinds a bell that breaks whatever spell they are under. The playing field switches with the members controlling the dancers in the second half. I also like how they designed the sets to really keep us captivated.

The dancers played a very big part in this choreography. Not only do they have a role in the concept, they also make the performance whole. Without them, the members would not have been able to pull off that epic entrance for God’s Menu, which the dancers popping up under that massive white sheet. Bangchan’s solo part was also very iconic, with that dancer upside down and mimicking Bangchan’s moves as if there were two seperate parallel worlds.

Symphony No.9 (From the Wonderland) – ATEEZ
Song: Wonderland

When it came to ATEEZ’s stage, I really liked the theatrical aspect of their arrangement. It just felt so fitting for Wonderland and made the stage quite memorable just from the song itself. It also gave the performance a more impactful level of nostalgia. I also liked that they didn’t change too much with the performance. It didn’t feel over-engineered or over-produced, which could be the case when you try to recreate another version of the song. They maintained the various effects and vibes that came off the 2019 version, but they did add some new parts and pauses to enable a story to be told on stage. I also liked the party remix towards the end. But what made this stage of Wonderland explosive were the vocals and raps from each member. The rapping start of the song courtesy of Hongjoong was so powerful and energetic. The rest of the members were extremely clear and crisp in this live performance. But the standout member has to be Jongho, who blew us all away with a surprising high note that even shocked the other contestants of the show.

ATEEZ’s concept for this stage was definitely the pirates and the Seven Seas. Defintive clues of this was the pirate ship they used as the main backdrop to their stage, the treasure map at the start of the performance and the massive octupus tentacle that surprised and wowed everyone. I also find the start of the performance quite mysterious, and liked how they used one of their previous concepts from their TREASURE era. It seems like these pirates are trying to find something that they have been contracted to do.

As mentioned earlier, I really liked how they weaved the story in the choreography as well. It definitely made for an interesting stage. The first verse and chorus was mainly to set the scene and also incorporated the original choreography, before the second verse and onwards changed things up a bit to make the story progress and provide that ‘new’ element to the performance (i.e. an alternate choreography for the remixed sequence at the end). I iwshed they changed it up sooner, as the start was kind of meh for me. The most impressive part of the routine was Jongho and Yunho’s spin.


Jealous – SF9

The final performance of the night was SF9’s Jealous (otherwise known as Now or Never). I am so glad they picked this song to be their stage, as it is too my favourite release from the group. Unfortuately, I think this version of Now or Never was the weakest arrangement of the bunch, and it doesn’t do the original version justice. It attempted to be thrilling and alluring with its subtle instrumentation mix at the start, the use of violins in the second verse and then its intense electronic sequence at the end. But the resulting product felt pretty bland. I didn’t get the same captivating or ‘edge of my seat’ experience as I did with the other performances. The vocal work was good, and the rapping had a promising factor to it. But I think the arrangement could have been better executed. Something electrifying would have been nice especially towards the end could have reinvented the energy, done justice to the original and given the arrangement that zing it needed.

Concept wise, this performance was also the weakest of the bunch. I wasn’t sure what the concept was, aside from the fact that mirrors played a massive part. It is quite unfortuate that SF9 got the shortest end of the short stick, given how shockingly poor the entire performance looked (and it is not SF9’s fault). From their lack of props to cheap looking outfits to the poor camera work, the performance did not hit the aesthetic standard. I did like the use of the two-way mirrors, which gave the performance that element of wow.

The choreography was good. Not the best, but it was the best element of their stage performance. Chani’s solo part with the female dancer gave the routine a sensual touch. I also liked that they brought over some of the original choreography, which made the routine feel familiar.


And the winner is…

We don’t know who the real winners of this round are. We are still awaiting official final rankings, though I suspect MNET might hold off on that. MNET has, however, released the results of each category that would make up the final ranking. Below are these results that have been officially announced, and the fifith column is what I think the final ranking should be like based on my own thoughts.

RankingExpert EvalutionSelf EvaulationVideo ViewsGlobal VotingKPOPREVIEWED’s FINAL Ranking
1ATEEZATEEZ Stray Kids Stray Kids Stray Kids
2Stray KidsBTOBiKONSF9ATEEZ
3The BoyzStray KidsATEEZiKONBTOB
4SF9The BoyzBTOBBTOBiKON
5BTOBiKONThe BoyzATEEZThe Boyz
6iKONSF9SF9The BoyzSF9

Do you agree with me? Or do you agree with the show’s interim category ranking? Or do you have a different order in mind? Let me know in the comments!

Previously: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – 100 Seconds Performances
Next up: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – Round 2 – RE:BORN

[Special] Kingdom: Legendary War Review – 100 Seconds Performances

Earlier this month, Kingdom: Legendary War began its run, pitting six well known and high performing male groups against one another for the throne. The Boyz, winner of the prequel season Road To Kingdom last year, is featured as one of these male groups. During the 2020 MAMA Awards, it was confirmed that Stray Kids and ATEEZ will be participating. And in January 2021, it was also confirmed that iKON, BTOB and SF9 will be joining the lineup. It was also confirmed that TVXQ (a name in the industry worthy of the Kingdom title without a doubt) will be hosting, but this was later reduced to just Max Changmin, as Yunho was involved in a scandal and was edited out as much as possible (and will not make an appearance in future rounds).

As I have reviewed part of Queendom and all of Road To Kingdom, I will also be reviewing the stages of Kingdom: Legendary War, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.

Preliminary Round – 100 Seconds Performances

The preliminary round was performed way back in February by each of the groups and was live streamed to the global audience in preparation for the actual season. The reason for this was to allows fans to live vote and pick their favourite stage, which would subsequently give the winning group an advantage in the first official round.

The preliminary round had a number of rules. Firstly, the performance could only last 100 seconds (hence the name of the round). Secondly, the song chosen for the preliminary round had to be a song that received first place before. Thirdly, the performance order was chosen based on who the participants perceived to win this preliminary round. Who was expected to win performed last. They then chose the group who would perform first. The group who was selected to perform first chose who went second, and so forth until the performance order was decided.

I will be reviewing the performances based on who went first, and will be looking at song arrangement and choreography for this preliminary round.


Wave: Overture – ATEEZ

My guess regarding ATEEZ’s concept was that they just washed ashore. The start of the performance saw the members struggling, as if they were injured. The screens showed their ship being capsized (for whatever reason), which explained their “injuries”. ATEEZ then officially began their performance with dramatic flair thanks to the violins and Hongjoong spewing fake blood on the stage, surprising all viewers (including fellow participants). Wooyoung, Jongho and San literally comes at the camera with their aggressive choreography, before the camera switching to Yunho (and Yeonsang and Seonghwa as well) starting us with the pre-chorus of Wave. When we get to the ‘chorus’ of the song, Wave opts for the return of the dramatic flair with synthesized violins employed to intensify the performance, allowing ATEEZ to show off a more powerful routine fitting for Kingdom. I liked that choice. Aside from the fake blood, San delivers the performances most impressive move of all (i.e. the backflip). Unfortunately, it isn’t much compared to the other performances on this list. ATEEZ finishes their 100 seconds with San running up and climbing on top of the rest of the group, whilst carrying a flaming torch and officially signifying the start of the performance. ATEEZ’s performance was great and provided us with a taster to their performance skills. But I don’t think they lived up to the expectation that I had for them personally going into the competition.


Beautiful Pain (Choir version) – BTOB

Out of all the male groups participating on the show, BTOB is the outlier. While they started off as a dance group, the group has found success with their more vocal-centric songs, such as ballads like Beautiful Pain. So it will be interesting to see what BTOB brings to the competition. But if their 100 seconds stage is anything to go by, BTOB will be bringing a lot of competitive heat by sweeping their competitors off their feet with amazing and jawdropping vocals (as they did with this stage). Obviously, BTOB cannot continually play this card for all stages, so it will be what BTOB will do next. The stage starts off with Eunkwang, Changsub and Minhyuk harmonising (beautifully, I should add) with one another, bringing the choir component to the song. It then cuts to Peniel rapping his part of the song, before he joins the other three members at the microphone stands to bring out Beautiful Pain‘s signature melodies and harmonise with one another to bring their stage to a close. The best part has to be the flawless high notes that they incorporated into the stage. It is a beautiful stage and showed off BTOB’s strongest asset, similar to how the other groups do so with choreography. If BTOB can implement powerful choreography to their stages (which they will have to, given the repertoire of songs from the fellow competitors), they will become a force to watch out for.


Good Guy (The Glory) – SF9

Given the criteria set for the preliminary round, SF9 was limited to only one song – Good Guy, which clinched their first win on music shows in early 2020. Notably absent is Rowoon, who was watching from the sidelines due to an injury. The group kicks off their 100 seconds performance with a model walk, intimidating us (and the competitors) with their serious looks and the echoing of the Good Guy hook from the song. After their walk, the camera focuses on Chani and Youngbin (I think) who starts aggressively dancing to the EDM dance break, before the other members joining in. The performance then ends with SF9 going into the final chorus of Good Guy, but with a modified routine to match the altered instrumental that also has been intensified. Unfortunately, nothing stood out for me. I think it was a solid routine and stage to watch, but I wanted more. I do like this side of the group as their more electrifying songs and performances are what I stray towards, but I wished they retained more of the sensual moves from the original choreography, which would have made this performance more memorable. There was some grinding, but what is the harm of asking for more?


Miroh – Stray Kids

Stray Kids is the only group who did not specify that this stage involves an alternate version of their original song in the title. But this 100 seconds version of Miroh is very different to standard Miroh we heard back in 2019. The animalistic and aggressive vibes of this performance shows whoever is watching who is boss. The stage opens up with Hyunjin alone. But with some easy camera distraction, the entire group appears in front of you in a second. In the background, you hear Felix’s iconic deep tone repeating the anthem that dominates Miroh. A few spins and jumps later, the group then performs with knives over some intense electronic music. This adds a thrilling and cool element to the performance. While I am sure they are not the real deal, the knives held in their mouths and their glares really intimidates, engages, captivates and take this performance to the next level. Felix and Han then brings us back to back Miroh, which is then followed up by Changbin who raps his part of the song whilst holding a stick that sends sparks flying out. This was the performance’s highlight. The choreography for Miroh‘s chorus’s beat drop is replicated (with Chan throwing in a backflip), before the group’s vocalists brings back dramatic and animalistic (respectively) vibes. This is all done whilst the other members are craving their symbol onto the stage, which is the final image we see before the performance comes to a close. Overall, the performance makes a statement from the very first second.


The Stealer (Epic Version) – The Boyz

The Boyz have the advantage that they are familiar with what is expected of them. However, they only had one song to choose from for this opening performance. Dubbing their performance the ‘epic version’ of The Stealer, The Boyz really does live up to that name. The performance starts off with Juyeon and Hakyeon, in what seems to be the competition’s creepiest start yet. The opening line ‘Is it an addiction‘ is probably going to stay in my mind for some time. The rest of the members come running in, before the song is warped and we are lead into the second part of the performance. This section is more electrifying, opting for electronic dance elements in the background. It is also this part where Sunwoo delivers some lines and shows an upgraded version of himself as we have never heard him like this before. We also see some cool camera work whilst Sunwoo raps away, with two of the members lending their arms for some arm choreography. The Boyz then all return to the stage, with some of the members sliding effortlessly back into the performance. This is also the only part of the performance that resembles the original song (i.e. the utterance of ‘I’m The Stealer‘). Interestingly, The Boyz changes up the performance with a third part, changing to a classical arrangement, showing off graceful ballet moves before capping the performance with flying Juyeon. With an final stunt like that, it is clear that The Boyz are willing to do whatever stunt it takes to win the competition, raising the expectation for future stages.


Rhythm Ta (Kingdom Version) – iKON

To me, iKON’s presence on this show is a bit of a wild card. But it seems like everyone is expecting greatness from them, given that they selected iKON the group likely to win this preliminary round. I am not too sure what to expect, given that their performances are not really as iconic as the actual songs themselves. But that being said, I am looking forward to what they are bringing to Kingdom. They kick off their 100 seconds of Rhythm Ta with the line ‘iKON is back‘, before progressing to some bold choreography that exudes confidence to me. I really like how iKON stayed true to their roots with their elements. Sure, they brought in EDM like the other groups. But they infused it with hip-hop influences and energy, which pretty much sums up iKON’s music in a nutshell. They kick the energy to a higher notch with DK and Jihwan’s duo moment, before the rest of the members come together to continue the same momentum. All the while, the addictive repetition of Rhythm Ta plays in the background. The performance then incorporates some of Bobby’s rapping who enters the centre of the performance with a really high jump. This is then followed up with iKON’s favourite vocal sequence – anthem. I really like how comfortable and fun Bobby looks like he is having throughout the performance, which really reflects on the audience, as we see some of the reactions of the other competitors. It was a fun performance that shows of iKON’s skillset.


And the ranking is…

At the end of each round, the show will rank the groups according to a set criteria. For this round, the criteria was simply global fan voting.

On the left hand side of the table below, you will find the show’s announced ranking, which was announced over the the first two episodes. On the right hand side, you will find my personal ranking of each of the performances. As you can see, I agree with the first two rankings but have a slightly different opinion regarding the 3rd to 6th ranks.

Do you agree with me? Or do you agree with the show’s ranking? Or do you have a different order in mind? Let me know in the comments!

RankKingdom: Legendary War Official RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
1Stray KidsStray Kids
2The BoyzThe Boyz
3BTOBATEEZ
4SF9BTOB
5ATEEZiKON
6iKONSF9

Next up: Kingdom: Legendary War Review – Round 1 – To The World

[International Song Reviews] Jackson Wang & JJ Lin, The Boyz, AB6IX & Why Don’t We, Jun.K, WAYV

It is time for another post International Song Review segment. As promised last time, I would write the post as soon as there are five songs eligible for review (i.e. any song by a Korean or KPOP-related artist who has released a song in a non-Korean market). In this post for this week, I will be reviewing the collaborations between Jackson Wang & JJ Lin, the remix collaboration between AB6IX and Why Don’t We. I will also look at The Boyz and Jun.K’s recent releases in the JPOP market and WAYV’s return.


Should’ve Let Go – Jackson Wang & JJ Lin

Should’ve Let Go is a collaboration between Jackson Wang (member of GOT7) and JJ Lin (a famous Singaporean artist) and was released at the end of 2020. The biggest asset in this song are both Jackson’s and JJ Lin’s vocals. They sound stunning throughout the song with their raspy vocals. The melodies in which carry their vocals are so smooth and this makes the song even more impeccable. And don’t get me started when they harmonise with one another. Those sections are just blissful. Another really great aspect of the song for me is the R&B instrumentation. While I do describe the song as a ballad, the R&B roots are very prominent and give the song a little bit more appeal than a usual classical instrumented ballad would. Oh, and per usual, the ballad makes me sway along (Props to you if you know what that means). The music video shows two love stories. The first is a couple who have been together for some time. The male partner gets into college or a job that requires the pair to go into a long distance relationship. The female partner does not like this idea and chooses not to kiss him one last time before he leaves. The second story is of a high school crush. The male partner has a crush on the female and hesitantly tries to get close to her. One day, she drops a necklace and he picks it up. Using this as an excuse, he plans on confessing to her through a letter. But when he is on his way to the next day, he witnesses his crush accepting flowers from another guy. At the end of the video, we see what should have happened (i.e. the guy moving away hugs his partner as he leaves, and the younger guy makes his move earlier on). I have an interesting theory that suggests Jackson is the guy who moved away as all his scenes are on the bus (which was the mode of transport the guy was taking to move away), while JJ Lin is the high school guy as he is seen holding the necklace that the female character in that story dropped. I liked how the stories felt fitting for the emotional side of the song, and the ambience of the scenes that involved JJ Lin and Jackson were optimal for a ballad like Should’ve Let Go. (10/10)


Breaking Dawn – The Boyz

The Boyz made their return to the Japanese market at the end of February with Breaking Dawn. However following the confusion caused by Tattoo (their first original single in the Japanese market), I still feel like The Boyz, their company and their producers are a little confused with the Japanese market. Three quarters of Breaking Dawn is prosed in the Korean language, with the other quarter being in Japanese (and is limited primarily to the end of the song – i.e. half of the bridge and the final chorus). Moving away from the language confusion, Breaking Dawn is a okay dance track. It isn’t one that I am super excited about. It doesn’t really offer us anything different to what we know The Boyz for. The only observation I made in regards to the song that I felt was a substantial difference was that the vocals and rapping sound a lot rougher in Breaking Dawn, compared to their other releases. While I usually would be praising this modification in sound because I really enjoy textures in my song, its instrumentation is plain and doesn’t provide any dynamic backing to these vocals. The chorus was also okay. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t necessarily terrible. I would have enjoyed it more with better hooks and maybe a punchier instrumental piece to liven the song. The ‘Breaking Dawn‘ deep toned whisper that kick starts the chorus doesn’t really do achieve any of that. I feel like its whisper really sets the tone for the chorus, which resulted in it not being as dynamic as I thought it could potentially be. For the music video, I really like the visuals that we got. This includes both the visuals of the members and the sets in general. I really like how they used fluoro colours as the main colour palette of the video, which looked stylish and trendy. The choreography was pretty good. To me, it felt like a continuation of the same themes and style as their The Stealer choreography. They show off their performance skills in this routine and there is also that tinge of sexiness in the performance, thanks to the bending back move that kicks off the chorus and the outfits worn by some of the members. (7.3/10)


Fallin’ (Adrenaline) – AB6IX & Why Don’t We

While there is no music video for the collaborative remix for Fallin’ (Adrenaline) by AB6IX and Why Don’t We (one of the criteria a release usually must have to be reviewable), I still want to write a review for it. While the main differences between the two versions is simply the multi-language approach of the lyrics, I have classed Fallin’ as an International Song because it was previously released as Western single and this particular version still involves the original singers of the song. Why Don’t We’s version was already really captivating, thanks to its instrumentation. But I also have really enjoyed AB6IX Remix for a number of reasons. Firstly, I enjoyed the instrumentation of both. They are effectively the same background piece, with really thrilling drumming that really get the adrenaline pumping. Secondly, I really liked how AB6IX really fitted into this song and alongside Why Don’t We. There synergy really made it feel like this was the original version of the song. Thirdly, I really enjoyed the addition of the rap sequence that Woojin contributed as part of the bridge. It continues that momentum from the chorus and it didn’t ruin the integrity, structure or overall feel of the song. I wish that one day (after this pandemic) we will have the opportunity to see a live performance of this collaboration. Just imagine Why Don’t We playing their instruments in the background and bringing us a live performance of that adrenaline rush, while AB6IX throws in a bit of choreography that taps into that energy and vibe. Already sounds like a performance to watch out for. (10/10)


Hide & Seek, 1995 – Jun.K

A release that has probably gone under the radar for a lot of people is Jun.K’s most release Japanese release, Hide & Seek, 1995. The song dips its toes into that groovy trend that has been ongoing in the KPOP music scene, however still keeps a R&B profile. I quite like this combination. It might be a bit typical in hindsight. But it is a good listen, nonetheless. I really like Jun.K’s vocals in this song. His husky tone is used really well and his vocals in general feel really lively and upbeat. Interestingly, his more recent Korean release (30 Seconds Might Be Too Long) actually has a similar sound. But yet, Hide & Seek 1995 seems to sound like a complete turnaround in sound thanks to his brighter sound. The music video for Hide & Seek, 1995 actually looks nice. Through the short previews that you get when you hover your mouse over the thumbnails on YouTube, I thought it would be a dull video. But the post-production, including colours and effects, all really helps the video work in harmony with the song. It is also a stylish manner to make the video appear more energetic. Jun.K also had good chemistry with the camera, which also helped as well. I quite enjoyed it in the end. (8/10)


Kick Back – WAYV

Kick Back is the latest release from WAYV, the Chinese based unit of NCT. Kick Back starts off like your typical male group dance track. I did like the hefty momentum of the song and the percussion in the background. The song then progresses into the pre-chorus, which brought in some dramatic flair. They merged some classical instrumentation into the song and I found this part of the song to be the most engaging. Just before the chorus, we get a long note from Ten, a bit of rapping from Lucas and what I would describe as ‘sparks’ in the instrumentation. This transition felt quite smooth and really connected well with the catchy and repetitive chorus simply. I really like how amped up everything felt in the chorus, but I think it could have gone an extra mile (more on that in a second). Moving along, I also really liked the bridge of the song. The focus is more so on the vocals, which I think was a very strong aspect of Kick Back, and I really like it how the instrumental felt like an extension of the pre-choruses (which I have already mentioned that I enjoyed a lot). The rapping in Kick Back was more forgettable. I felt like this was a missed opportunity to have the rappers deliver a sequence with a little more power and dynamism to offset the ‘neutral gear’ that the song was stuck in. And that is something that I must admit really stuck out at me. While the song was good and what I have described Kick Back is quite positive, I can’t help it but think the song was ‘safe’ for the group. We did get a tease of an octane sequence at the end with a dance break sequence at the end. However, I would have preferred it more if the producers somehow integrated this into the song, rather than just sticking it at the end. I think this would have helped make the song a lot more appealing in the long run. Based on what I am reading, WAYV’s music video for this release is connected to past NCT and WAYV music videos. Watching the music video a couple of times for this review, I didn’t really catch any references to those videos. But maybe my mind isn’t working right today. But the video has good cinematography, which made the video engaging for me to watch. The sets also looked good. Their outfits felt questionable for me. Their choreography routine looks really cool. I really like the footwork that you can see throughout the video and their jelly leg move during the chorus. While the footwork does look easy, I am sure the balancing act they had to do at the same time on the other foot made it really hard. I also liked the subtle tinge of aggressiveness in the choreography. (7.6/10)

[Review] Christmassy! – The Boyz

The Boyz is nominated for Best Male Group, Rising Star and Best Male Group Performance (for The Stealer). Have you supported The Boyz in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards? Click here to do so now!

With December in full effect, we start humming the many Christmas carols out loud and we start hearing songs like ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You‘ play in the background of our shopping trips (it has already started to chart on the Korean music charts!). On top of that, we also see our favourite KPOP idols Christmas themed songs. The Boyz kicks off the trend with Christmassy! this month, which also commemorates the group’s third debut anniversary. Usually, I reserve these songs for Christmas Day and don’t review them. But this year I don’t plan on posting anything on Christmas Day (I will be on a two-ish week break around that time), I thought I review it now.

Christmassy! is obviously a light-hearted track and is designed to not be taken seriously, which is completely different to their previous tracks this year (i.e. Reveal and The Stealer). The jingle of bells plays throughout the video, reminding us constantly that this is a Christmas-themed track. That is, if you don’t already detect the theme from the Christmas themed title and lyrics that form part of this song. Even though the song isn’t to be taken seriously and is a nice gift to their fans, Christmassy! does have a few nice elements that make the song enjoyable to listen to. I really like the vocal work in this song. There is a lot of smoothness in this song and the vocal work is relatively light to fit in with the light-hearted side of the song. There are really nice harmonies in the pre-chorus that just made the song sound so pleasant. Even the rapping was tweaked to be playful and fitting in with the light tone of the song. The hooks aren’t that strong, but they do have a nice ring to them. And that sometimes is enough to really help make the song more enjoyable. Overall, Christmassy! is quite nice to kick back to this festive month for KPOP fans and it bound to help spread some of that festive cheer!

Do you want to smile more widely or have a bit of a laugh? Then Christmassy!‘s accompanying music video might be just the one for you. As mentioned before, this isn’t a release to be taken seriously. And this is well reflected in the music video. The video seems to be self-filmed or filmed by someone (maybe a member who isn’t on screen) on a mobile phone, capturing what looks like the members trying to compete to be the ‘prom king’ with the viewers. We see the members go above and beyond to ask the viewers to go with them to this Christmas themed prom party. There are also some great references to some memes throughout the video and there were a few moments that made me chuckle.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Album Review] CHASER (5th Mini Album) – The Boyz

The album review that I intended to post on the Friday that we just passed was The Boyz’s CHASER mini-album. The album was released back in September and (like the state of this segment) the album review comes after the group had wrapped up promotions for the title track, The Stealer. The group is currently in follow up promotions with Whiplash, though I suspect that might have ended. Also featured on the mini-album are four new tracks and CHECKMATE, the group’s final song on Road To Kingdom. This also helped the group win their one-way ticket to Kingdom, which has recently been confirmed to begin shooting in January 2021. While I am sure that many people are super excited for this, we just need to wait a little longer. In the meanwhile, here is my album review for CHASER.

CHASER Album Cover

1. Shine Shine – If you are judging the song by the title (like I did) and are expecting something with sunshine and flowers (similar to The Boyz’s Bloom Bloom), then you need to look elsewhere. Shine Shine kicks off CHASE with a much darker tone and heavier sounds. It features a very sleek dance instrumentation that will make the members look good on stage without a doubt. The vocals, rapping and hooks were all quite smooth to compliment the instrumental. I also liked the subtle intensity that comes from the song. Overall, a strong starter to this new side of The Boyz. (9/10)

2. The Stealer (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for The Stealer. (8/10)

3. InsanityInsanity begins with a sequence that felt like a mix of Taemin’s Danger (which the group covered on Road To Kingdom) and something of their style. And it is a very intriguing start. What comes after that introductory sequence does not disappoint as well. Their vocals are definitely what I am referring to, especially Sunwoo’s lines throughout the song. He was so smooth, alluring and the standout member in this song. That being said, the rest of the members do an amazing job as well. It is interesting to note that the song relied purely on vocals to delivery the song’s polished melody. I liked this stylistic choice, allowing the vocals to be emphasized throughout the track in a matter that wouldn’t have been achieved if there were some strong rap sequences incorporated into the song. (9/10)

4. Whiplash Whiplash inserts some lighthearted and cheerfulness to the album. And I felt this break from the seriousness of CHASE thus far really makes the song standout. To the point where I think it edges ahead of the rest of the album. The song actually reminds me of Super Junior’s Devil. I didn’t like that particular song when I reviewed it, but it is another song that grew on me over time. I love the pop rock instrumentation in Whiplash and the guitar riffs throughout the song. It enables the cool melodies that makes Whiplash so appealing to me. Once again, their vocal work is superb, and they felt quite classy throughout this pop track. The rapping gave the song some punch and complimented the higher tone the vocalists sing at. The song itself was quite catchy and it had me humming along for days. (10/10)

5. Make or BreakMake or Break continues the upbeat energy from the preceding track. It brings me back to The Boyz’s chirpier and energetic tracks that they used to promote. Come to the think of it, Make or Break would have been an excellent sidetrack for Bloom Bloom, if it wasn’t just a digital single. It features great instrumentals that also reminds me of 90s hip-hop, to a degree. It is a solid track. While I think the singing was great in the song, I wanted more from the rapping. They could have gone harder with the rapping, which would have suited the 90s style really well. What we got was pretty decent, but it would have been nice to hear them go that extra bit further. (8/10)

6. CHECKMATE (Stage Ver.) – I have previously reviewed the song as part of the Road To Kingdom special review series. Click here to read the review I gave CHECKMATE (noting that you will need to do some scrolling to get to the review). (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

THE STEALER / CHASER Teaser Image

[Review] The Stealer – The Boyz

It is fair to say that The Boyz has had an action-packed 2020, so far. In March, the group returned with their first studio album and title track of the same name, Reveal. Later in June, the group emerged was the victors of Road To Kingdom with CHECKMATE, earning them a one-way ticket to the upcoming season of Kingdom (which has been pushed to next year). And now the group has returned with their new title track, The Stealer and mini-album, Chase.

The Stealer starts with a short peaceful piano piece, before launching right into the chorus. The contrast between the two makes the start become quite bold and it really pulls you in. The chorus itself is paced, employing a dragged out effect within the dance instrumentation, and the vocals come off shouty (in a good way). I would have loved a more captivating hook, but the combination of shouty-like vocals and strong instrumentation that makes up the chorus is well-rounded and dynamic enough for me. The choruses are followed by a snappy drums and cool bassline instrumental break, which also makes up the basis of the instrumentation throughout the rest of the song. It also gives off stylish vibes, adding extra appeal to the song no doubt. When it comes to the verses, I find the song blends the rapping and vocals extremely well with one another. Unlike the dragged out nature of the chorus, the verses kept you on your heels with the instrumental being consistently fast paced. The second verse is when I realized that the song is a hip-hop dance track. I somehow didn’t get this vibe during the first verse, which is odd as the chorus basically sets up the same hip-hop route. To me, the best part of The Stealer is the bridge. It simply comes down to an awesome vocal line, followed up with dynamic rap sequences, before launching back into the final chorus. The Stealer could used some extra oomph to close out the song in a much stronger manner. But that is just an additional want from me.

The song itself is about how the members are attempting to steal their lover’s heart. But at the last moment, their lover disappears after. It seems like their lover is onto them, as the music video does depict them going on a mission to steal their lover’s heart. But at the end, the heart is gone and the members are left behind bars and fences (even the lighting was set up to look like a fence in some choreography shots), meaning their lover had played them. I thought this was a nice twist to the storyline they were trying to depict within The Stealer‘s lyrics. Aside from my quick interpretation, I really like the boldness and dominance of the red colour. The members are dressed up stylishly in black outfits, popping out of the red background.

Given that this is the comeback following their Road To Kingdom appearances and win, I expected something with a little more wow factor. While that wasn’t delivered (I mean, how do they top the jump from their Danger cover?), they opted for a more stylish and trendy setup and vibe for this performance. I quite like this alternative direction, with the choreography exuding masculine energy that really sets them apart from other male artists who have more recently returned.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Finale

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the finale of the show. Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Finale

Like the Queendom finale, the remaining groups released new songs a week ahead of the final episode to compete for the secured spot on the upcoming Kingdom series. With these new songs come new stages and concepts never seen before. Like usual, I will be focusing on their new songs, concept and performance to see which group had the superior performance and the title of Road To Kingdom winner.


Come Back Home – ONEUS

Come Back Home starts off with a grungy and angsty rock vibe, before settling on a subtle form of dubstep for the chorus (a bit typical, if I were to be honest). There is also a strong dance beat mixed within the song that reminds me of ONEUS’s other title tracks such as Valkryie and Twilight. The final instrumental break at the end of the song carries the same vibes as the choruses of those mentioned songs. I really liked the rapid drum beats at the end of the choruses, which offsets the paced nature of the chorus (which was a unique drawing point). I also really Leedo’s parts in this song, going from a dark and deep rapping voice to smooth vocals for the bridge. Seoho’s high note is also commendable.

The roles in which ONEUS plays in this performance, concept-wise, are protectors of the young child. The backup dancers played the evil people who rose from the dead to kill the young child. The VCR that starts off the performance adds context to the performance, but it doesn’t add much substance. Likewise, I did think the presence of the child for the performance did very little.

The actual choreography was really good. I really like the Leedo and RAVN dynamic that the performance focused on. At one point, Leedo and RAVN also played each other’s shadow. I also like their visual effects by using the big screen. The group does a few stunts in this performance, but I did wish the stage lighting was a lot better to see this more clearly. I did like the suspenseful ending when all the members disappeared.

Song – 8/10
Concept – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10


New World (신세계) – ONF

New World kicks off with a rapid beat and dramatic flair that really captured my attention from the very first second. It is the one song leading up to the final episode that I continually replayed and enjoyed. Like ONEUS’ track, I felt New World compliments ONF’s discography. It was dynamic and captivating, all common descriptors to ONF’s songs. The chorus was very memorable with that ‘Higher‘ delivery being my favourite part of the song, which also adds a tinge of light into this otherwise intense sound. I also liked the lead into the final chorus from the bridge, as this part was very powerful and makes sure to grab your attention, just in case the earlier sections didn’t work.

The performance started off with a whole cinematic montage from their past music videos. It seems like the performance’s concept is unlocking the doors to the New World, which is shown through the emphasis of keys in the opening montage and also the presence of keys in the performance.

With such a good song, it already has that edge. And the group did an amazing job in extending this edge and making this a very captivating performance. The entire sequence of them using the keys to unlock the silver box was very captivating, though Wyatt slamming the box though made me feel uncomfortable, just based on the way the box landed on the ground. I just wished the performance reflected the change in tempo speeds, which would have made everything feel more natural.

Song – 9/10
Concept – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating 9/10


Basquait (바스키아) – Pentagon

To me, Basquait felt like another version of Dr. Bebe at times. While the other groups have performed songs that complimented their existing discography, Pentagon is the only group on this list ‘replicate’ an existing song, which doesn’t come off well. That thought aside, I did like how the song didn’t rely on EDM or electronic synths to become a dance track, instead opting for rock elements to give that angst and grungy vibe throughout the entire song. I also think the vocal and rapping work from the members are on point. The song does lack a memorable hook or moments, which doesn’t help the song gain an advantage.

I am unsure what their concept is, but Pentagon looks like they have been part of a rebellion with their ripped up outfits. They did have a VCR at the start of the performance, but it doesn’t shed much light on the concept. It does, however, look like they were running from someone but ended up being captured.

And that is where we start off the performance. I really liked how the stage theatrics really helped make their performance a lot more epic and captivating to watch. I liked their use of props and how their dance moves seemed to pack a punch, which goes hand-in-hand with the assumed concept. I do need to say that Hui nailed his high note, which sounded extra epic on stage. That alone adds a tonne of leverage to the performance, helping them boost the song’s appeal by a great amount (which was pretty much needed).

Song – 6/10
Concept – 7/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7/10


Checkmate – The Boyz

The Boyz’s Checkmate isn’t the strongest song in the bunch. But I liked how the song seems to be fixated on the idea of a fast tempo in terms of both their instrumental and some of their vocal melodies. I also liked the use of the piano in the instrumental, which gives the song a very unique vibe, in comparison to the rest of the other songs. I also enjoyed some of the vocals moments, such as that ‘Royal Royal Catch A Royal‘ and the equivalent in the second verse. I am unconvinced that this is the best track of the bunch (as suggested by the results of the finale – spoiler alert, they won), as it took a fair amount of time for me to get into.

Concept-wise, the start performance revolves around the crown that The Boyz had focused on since the first round. To have the crown feature in all their major performances where possible is quite clever and really intrigues me. But for those who are joining for the first time (where have you been), the group also has a chessboard concept.

Amazing performance. The start was epic, with the passing of the crown and Sunwoo falling from that height into the mattress. I like the one-take camera work for the first verse. Everything that happened during this first verse looked really cool, as a result. The group was also the only group to dance on the audience side of the stage (i.e. where the other groups are sitting the performance). The use of the dancers to doing that tutting like action just before the bridge was really cool and the use of that box on stage somehow blew my mind. Oh, and their dance moves were really fluid. Everything on that stage was just captivating to watch.

Song – 7/10
Concept – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10


Beautiful-x – VERIVERY

I commend VERIVERY for going with the most brightly energetic song out of the bunch, which does help them stand out from the competition. This is a risky move, given that the industry does prefer male groups with a dark concept than these youthful ones. Beautiful-x has a strong beat that had my foot tapping along. There is also a bit of funkiness to the song, which makes it very fun sounding. I liked the vocal melodies, particularly around ‘Nal Wihae‘ (‘For You‘) part of the chorus, but I wished that the rapping was a little dynamic, which I think would have supported the song. It, to me, felt like the most forgettable part of the song.

The group goes with that high school concept, which is pretty unoriginal. The entire montage at the start was boring and failed to excite me to keep watching the performance. The fact that they kept on confessing their love by putting items in the one locker felt cheesy.

As the performance progressed, things got a lot more interesting. It does look like your typical KPOP stage performance, as the moves looked quite typical at best. I really like the basketball routine and also the band scenes (though it did look somewhat cheesy as well). The cheesy note could also apply for the ending as well.

Song – 8/10
Concept – 5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.1/10


And The Winner Is…

Road To Kingdom crowned The Boyz as the overall winners of the entire show. That was based on digital points of the new singles from its release date; the accumulated points from the first three rounds; view counts from the performances on online platforms and fan votes! Unfortuately I don’t have access to all of that information, so I will be basing my pick for overall winner based on the rankings I have given to them thus far, including the ones above.

With that being said, the group whom I think should have been crowned as the winner to Road To Kingdom is ONF, with The Boyz coming runner up. It is a bit of a reversal, as ONF were the runner up in real life. To see my version of the final rankings, they are in the table below.

Final Ranking PositionArtist
#1ONF
#2The Boyz
#3Pentagon
#4VERIVERY
#5ONEUS
#6TOO
#7Golden Child

And with that, I have completed my review for Road To Kingdom. A lot of work was put into this, but it was quite fun. Now I just need to return to the usual posting schedule, which I haven’t really adhered to while working on this review series. With The Boyz confirmed for the upcoming Kingdom series, who else do you want to see on the show? For me personally, I want to see Stray Kids, SF9, ATEEZ and NCT as part of the lineup. That will definitely be very exciting! Let me know who iswill be on your version of Kingdom in the comments section below!

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review and Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 3 Part 2 ‘Your Song’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the second part of the third official round (i.e. Your Song). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Your Song

Each remaining group had the ability to choose a song that was performed in this second part of Round 3. The song chosen by one group was allocated to the group they were paired with in the first part in Round 3. The scores from this part of round 3 and the preceding part were combined to determine which group would be leaving the competition next, ahead of the finale. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Be Mine – ONEUS (Original Artist: Infinite)

What I really liked about ONEUS’ version of Be Mine is that it doesn’t mess around. The melody remains as it is. It is just modernised to be fitting for a 2020 competition. They don’t add anything that would have taken away the nostalgic factor and hence this makes their stage a really good version of the original to just listen. I love that they did use violins in this version. I always thought Infinite’s classical remixes of their songs were the best and this was very appealing to my taste on a personal level. I feel that the rapping was a weak point in this arrangement. They did feel a little foreign to the original song. But as it is ONEUS’ version, they had every right to infuse some of themselves in a way into the song. For the stage, they took on a Romeo and Juliet concept. They opened the performance with a musical sequence from the play that just about everyone knows. On stage, we see the part where Juliet is dead and Romeo discovers her body. It is followed by the actual performance of the song. Keeping true to how they approach their arrangement, the performance doesn’t have anything too crazy in terms of stunts. It was a rather clean performance and they knew when to add some oomph to the performance to make it feel strong. What was cool was how they draped that piece of fabric with the two coat of arms of the houses over the page and RAVN cut it in half with a pair of scissors and walking through it, symbolising that nothing will keep the star crossed lovers apart. The performance ends with Romeo about to drink the poison and Juliet just waking up. The way they ended it gave the performance a cliffhanger, despite us already knowing what was to come afterwards.


It’s Raining – ONF (Original Artist: Rain)

Without a doubt, ONF’s stage was the strongest of the bunch. It is the performance from this round that I continue to come back to ever since it aired. The group chose a very well-known song but managed to make it their own. The original version is very sexy and mature in many ways. ONF’s version turns it into an extremely upbeat track and infuses likeable energy into it that really grabs your attention. I liked how the song retains famous inhale and exhale sounds. I also like how they incorporate the Complete saxophone into the song. It is a fun little nod to themselves in a song that pays homage to Rain. It also helps with the funky element that they have int their song. I found their ‘Rain, Go Rain, Its Raining‘ version to be extremely catchy and it made it fun. I also like that killer line that ends to the performance. ‘It’s raining, I’m crazy‘. That was awesome. For the performance, the group incorporated a Michael Jackson concept. Their outfits do that wonderfully and that dance break mid-way into the performance had all the familiar Michael Jackson moves. I also liked how they started off their performance with a reflection of their Road To Kingdom journey and how that opening piece with Hyojin was revisited partway into the performance so that the opening sequence made sense. For the performance, I enjoyed all the dance moves. I really liked their use of curtains, which added a really cool stage element to the performance and how it hid the members/dancers, allowing to them to enter into the performance in a dynamic fashion, matching the energetic style of the song.


Follow – Pentagon (Original Artist: MONSTA X)

Pentagon intensifies MONSTA X’s Follow, an already intense song. I did not know it was possible and this just intrigues me to continue listening to their version. Interestingly, it isn’t their instrumentation that is intense, but rather their delivery of the song that had that intense charge to it. What I also love about that despite it being amped up, I don’t find the performance to be overwhelming, which is a good thing. Their arrangement started off with an exotic-sounding sequence that sets their Egyptian concept in place and also foreshadows the intensity of the performance (that just keeps on growing as the song progresses). We then tick over into what sounds like a hip-hop based verse, before settling on an EDM pop sound. I was a little confused with this change in sound. I would have liked for them to continue that hip-hop sound as it sounded quite interesting. Nonetheless, the track nails the EDM pop sound, opting for a completely different range of synths to the original song. The dance break sounded awesome. I also really enjoyed the growling sounds the members executed, which added an animal-like side to their cover that just makes it so much more intense. Hui’s growl at the end of his high note, Yuto and Wooseok’s rapping just sounded so much more powerful. I really like the set for their stage, which really help further the concept. My favourite part has to be when the sarcophagus was opened to reveal Shiwon in it. Their entire dance break after Hui’s high note was probably my favourite part of the choreography (including Hui’s part of the dance break). I also liked that ending, with Wooseok walking back to the throne and the ‘glory music’ playing in the background.


Quasi una fantasia (Shangri-La) – The Boyz (Original Artist: VIXX)

After their stages in this show so far, it is very different to hear the group to start off with something so pretty sounding like what they did here. But don’t worry, they bring their signature intensity back for this stage later on. In fact, I really liked the contrast between the start and how far they manage to develop the song once it ended. I also liked how they bridged the two sections. Following the pretty sounding first verse, they went with a classical piece, before proceeding with the chorus which is where their arrangement slowly started to build. I really liked the percussion and EDM in the instrumental that followed, which is what gave their version the intensity that I have acknowledged earlier. In a way, The Boyz managed to make VIXX’s Shangri-La into an even more captivating and dynamic song. The group went with an Oriental concept, focusing on cherry blossoms for a large portion of their performance. I really like the flower they formed with their skirts (not really sure what to call those pieces of fabrics). They definitely added a pretty element but pushed the boundaries by wearing them and using them in this performance (especially since everything is quite masculine and powerful in a ‘strong sense’ in the competition so far). I liked the idea of the screen in which Younghoon walked behind and how it was used to form a tree. I also liked how his branch had nothing on it and as it went down the line, the branch started to flourish. This performance is definitely unlike their previous ones, but it was still captivating to watch.


Hard Carry – TOO (Original Artist: GOT7)

When I heard that Hard Carry was going to be one of the performances covered in this round, I was overjoyed. Hard Carry is my favourite GOT7 track ever. It was a powerful release and it left a strong impression on me. TOO’s version of the song is questionable for me. There were some good moments and I liked how they ‘translated’ the song into a hip-hop based sound. I personally don’t mind their direction for this song and would have been great if they somehow brought the intensity of the original over. Instead, their version came off as toned down and weak, which isn’t a great thing. I would have liked more of that rock sound that followed the first chorus. It had what I was looking for and would have been a great element to continue throughout latter dance breaks in their performance. It isn’t all bad news as I enjoyed their rapping and vocal work. I also enjoyed how they all contributed to the chorus, especially the final chorus, which I believe ties their performance and concept together nicely. For their concept, the group went with a street style. This fits in with their hip-hop sound quite well. I also liked how urban the stage and visual effect on the screen looked. Their outfits are edgy in a way that also fits their youthful image. Unfortunately, there was something that I didn’t really think suited their performance. Take the ‘all smiles rock’ sequence that followed the first chorus. It just looked weird and just didn’t go well with their intense dance portions of the performance. It looked a little playful when they were doing something so edgy. I did like it when they turned the lights down and had the fluorescent colours on their outfits glow. That looked cool. The dancing, for the most part, looked quite cool.


gogobebe – VERIVERY (Original Artist: Mamamoo)

VERIVERY was assigned gogobebe, which is originally by my favourite female group. It is the only song by a female group in this round. I liked how they brought in that foreign musical flair that suits the Aladdin theme they had on stage. They combined it with some modern synths to give it that oophm and energy that made it a fun stage. Take the final moments of the chorus. They added definition by bolstering the beat, and in turn, helped that part become quite dynamic. If I were to compare the two versions, VERIVERY’s version is definitely more enjoyable as it explores more of that fun side of the song, which is obviously required to be done for an appealing stage. They had a huge dance break in the middle and I liked how they kept that musical colour to it. I would have thought they went something extreme and be considered ill-fitting to give the performance that edgy feel and/or allow the group to sneak in some crazy moments into their choreography. As mentioned, the concept was Aladdin. Their outfits were quite nice and the stage props were cool. I was quite disappointed with the rug. I wished it wasn’t just on the floor, because this just cheapens the performance in my point of view. I liked how they had the lamp, but there was no reference to the Genie. It might have been a hard idea to pull off. But since they included Jafar into the performance, I am sure they could have added the Genie in some capacity. As for the dancing, I thought the entire performance looked great. I really liked how Jafar’s cane was floating about just before the dance break. Unfortunately, the cane was also the flaw of the performance, as Hoyoung dropped it at a critical moment. It was something I waited to happen on the show, as all these performances cannot be as perfect as they seem. And they recovered well and pulled off the performance without any other hitches.


And the ranking…

For this round, I agreed with the show on how they ranked their first and last place. ONF came out on top with such a cool performance, while TOO just felt short with their rendition of Hard Carry. It is the rankings in between that I did not agree with. Actually, I ranked the middle rankings in the opposite manner to the show. To see how it turned out, you can view the table below.

PerformanceArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
It’s RainingONF#1#1
Quasi una fantasiaThe Boyz#2#5
gogobebeVERIVERY#3#4
Be MineONEUS#4#2
FollowPentagon#5#3
Hard CarryTOO#6#6

As mentioned earlier, Round 3 was an elimination round. By combining the scores of the Collaboration and the Your Song rounds, the show ended up eliminating TOO for the competition. And my rankings also conform to that decision. For the rest of the rankings (which are irrespective of the performances in the Song Of King and My Song round), view the table below!

RankingArtist
#1ONF
#2ONEUS
#3Pentagon
#4The Boyz
#5VERIVERY
#6TOO

And that wraps all the rounds. We are left with five groups – ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz and VERIVERY. And they are off the finale, where they release and perform a new song just for the Road To Kingdom viewers. Whoever is victorious in the finale will go on to participate in Kingdom, as the first prize is a confirmed spot in the next show! To know my thoughts on the finale, you gotta check back this coming Monday! Until then, here are all the links to the previous posts.

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 3 Part 1 ‘Collaboration’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the first part of the third official round (i.e. Collaboration). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Collaboration

At the end of the last round, Golden Child was eliminated, leaving 6 groups in the competition. In this round, two groups would pair up and would need to cover a song of their choice. Not all members were required for the stage. For this round, Pentagon joined up with ONF, VEIRVERY joined hands with TOO, leaving The Boyz and ONEUS to share the stage. The scores from this part of round 3 and the following part were combined to determine which group would be leaving the competition next, ahead of the finale. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Kill This Love – ONF & Pentagon (Original Artist: BLACKPINK)

I remember watching this performance for the first time after it had aired and not knowing which song was being covered at the time. I only recognised it was Kill This Love once it reached the chorus. I totally liked the intense and powerful route that this arrangement took, completely straying away from the original version. The guys made it very sensual when it came to the chorus, which I thought was memorable. Their concept took on a horror with a twisted romance and I enjoyed all the little details in the arrangement that gave it that profile and character. While the song was successful thanks to the vocals, I feel that the rappers really had the shining moments in this stage. Wooseok with his neck cutting left a deep impression on not only myself, but the rest of the competition. Wyatt’s deep voice gave the first verse some impact, while J-US’ interpretation of the ‘We must kill this love. It is sad but true‘ left me speechless. These alone were very memorable over the other performances. As for the performance itself, I thought it was fantastic. It was eerie, mysterious and had a suspenseful edge that left me wanting more. We have a female ghost, whom all the members are attracted to. Not in a romantic sense, but rather an addictive sense. The members looked insane, broken or terrifying throughout the performance because of this love. All of this makes perfect sense for the song choice, come to the think of it. The performance ends with Hyojin successfully getting back to the female ghost, but it turns out that it was all in his head (and hence the twisted side of the romantic story). The dance breaks were epic and their performance looked like they all came from one group. My favourite part has to be Hongseok being pulled from under his clothes and Wooseok’s neck cutting motion that I had already mentioned. Captivating performance, overall.


On – TOO & VERIVERY (Original Artist: BTS)

Unlike the cover of both Kill This Love (above) and Heroine (below), it was quite obvious from the get-go that TOO and VERIVERY was covering BTS’ latest track, On. This entire rearrangement of On takes on a militaristic character, which fits in neatly with the original song. You can hear parts of the original song in the background, which was the main give away at the start of the cover. I just wished with the chorus, they put a unique spin on it, instead of amplifying the original. That really would make this performance extremely strong. Take the second verse for example as they did with what I had wanted. I really liked their use of classical instrumentation and how they built on it as it progressed through that verse. It was a different direction to the original and it gave this collaboration some unique points. Without a doubt that the performance took a military based concept, which looked really cool. Some of their outfits looked a little bulky though, which I don’t think would have helped them in a performance sense. But that is only a minor concern. As for the choreography, damn it was good. They used a lot of the original choreography for the choruses, which made sense given that they used the original choruses. But their energy they gave during the choruses made the routine look really good. A military concept will definitely have the term ‘synchronisation’ associated to it. Their synchronization was truly scary during the chorus and once again, they look like one group. And while I am speaking about synchronisation, we need to talk about the dance break that follow the second chorus. They marching/turning that kicked it off and the fluid dance moves that followed made it a powerful routine that wowed me.


Heroine – ONEUS & The Boyz (Original Artist: Sunmi)

The final collaboration performance takes on Sunmi’s Heroine. As mentioned above, you don’t really know what song they are covering until after the rappers finish doing their thing at the start. The new arrangement kicks off with a ballad-like sequence, where the rappers rapped about their dream and how sorry they are to their loved ones for taking this hard path. Heroine‘s melody comes through during the first vocal sequence, but they continue the ballad-like atmosphere. We slowly get a buildup to the second verse, where the arrangement becomes more of that pop track we all know of. As the stage progresses, they infuse a club beat and drop to the performance which really captivates me, that is both powerful and memorable. For the stage’s concept, I found it very unique that they portrayed the life and journey to becoming an idol. We kick off with hopes and dreams that the rappers were rapping about, followed by training and auditioning. More training occurred afterwards until they were ready to debut. The makeup and wardrobe preparations were made and everyone got to dance on stage. This only gets us up to the end of the second verse. For the bridge, we get fans chanting each of the group’s name (including Golden Child, who were eliminated last round). All the other groups were touched by this. We see two members (sorry, I couldn’t catch their names/faces) sitting on the stage during this sequence, but only one of them rejoins the other members, while the other member walks off stage. It is said that the member who walked off stage represented all the idols who came and disappeared, which I thought was very thought evoking. At the end, we see all the team’s logos on the screen and the two groups hugging and smiling, showing us that they are all together in this journey in becoming an idol. The dance sequences were quite good and paired extremely well with the music. Hwanwoong’s solo moment really stole the show for me. But it is the concept that really makes this stage memorable and impactful.


And the ranking…

This collaborative round was really good and showcased awesome stages, some of which are probably the best in the whole competition. And it comes down to the all exciting ranking. Remember that the scores from this section of Round 3 and the next section of Round 3 were combined to eliminate another group. But that is discussion for the next post in this series. As for my ranking, I picked ONF and Pentagon to be the top stage, while TOO and VERIVERY was chosen as the weaker collaboration (but it does not mean their performance was bad!). For the actual rankings and where ONEUS and The Boyz sit on my ranking, you can see it all in the table blow.

SongArtistsActual RankingMy Ranking
Kill This LoveONF & Pentagon#1#1
OnTOO & VERIVERY#2#3
HeroineONEUS & The Boyz#3#2

And that wraps it up for the first part of the 3rd Round. The second part of the 3rd Round is dubbed ‘Your Song’, where the groups got to choose any song to perform. Check back on Thursday for that post!

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 2 ‘My Song’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the second official round (i.e. My Song). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.

My Song (2nd Round)

As part of the third and fourth episodes of the competition, the participating groups had to choose of their past songs and rearrange it for this round. The stakes are high in this round, as the rankings and points from the 1st and 2nd round together would determine which group would be eliminated from the competition. I will outline my thoughts on the elimination that occurred and who I thought should have been eliminated the end. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Wannabe – Golden Child

The original version of Wannabe is already quite sleek. Yet, their rearrangement somehow is more sleeker. They sampled Caprices No. 24 by Paganini, which is a stunning and well-known violin piece (just watch Joochan played it on the violin during the performance). The rearrangement of the song incorporates and emphasises the instrumental melodies with the use of orchestral instruments. And while this is very intense already, they add electric guitar riffs to top it off. With regards to the concept, it seems like their aim to reach for the white violin which is above the group while they perform, though its significance is unknown. Only the start and end of the performance seems to focus on the suspended white violin. I wished they somehow presented the significance of the white violin on this stage to give us some context (I think they tried to, but it wasn’t obvious). The rest of the performance is detached from the violin. The start is very dramatic and I really liked the ‘under and over’ moves they do. It looks complicated and well timed. As they kept the melodies of the original, the original choreography was also included neatly into the performance. I liked how intense and powerful the choreography was that accompanied Joochan’s violin solo. Actually, all the new elements in their performance can be described in the same way. This is definitely a step up from their 1st round performance.


Lit – ONEUS

What I really liked about this version of Lit is that ONEUS didn’t try to reinvent it. Instead, they kept true to the original and emphasised the folk elements of the original version. For the most part, the two version sound quite similar and that could potentially be a downfall to the stage. But instead, they made everything more defined and dynamic, giving an extra surge of energy to the original version to get to this version. And they just continued with the momentum as they progressed in the song, which makes the arrangement very appealing for me (just listen to Seoho’s rap sequence). As for the stage concept, it seems like ONEUS is playing on the ‘Kingdom’ part of the show. The folk elements lends very well to historical Korean times (when there were emperors etc.). A very recent adaption of this era in media is the Netflix Korean zombie show, Kingdom (see the pun? – I also highly recommend Kingdom, if you like zombies and horror). The peak of the performance incorporates zombies, which I thought was a genius and unique idea. And this allows them to intensify their choreography and also execute a wardrobe change, though I had a feeling it was coming based on their robes. I also thought the presence of all those traditional Korean elements on stage made it look cooler and set the overall tone of the performance. The concept alone stands out, the ending was bomb and this stage a strong contender.


The We Must Love (We Must Love & Moscow Moscow) – ONF

Intensifying the song seems to be the route everyone is taking. So far, the intensification is quite unique between performances. ONF’s rearrangement of We Must Love incorporates an orchestra and combines it with the electronic components of the original We Must Love. It then flows into a rock sound, before settling on an amplified version of the original. I particularly like Wyatt’s rap sequence, which is followed by MK’s vocals. That section purely thrived on intensity and ended up being the most powerful moment. The performance closes with a bit of Moscow Moscow, which I believe helps bring the story on stage to a close. Regarding the stage’s concept, Yooa (from Oh My Girl) features as the ‘puppet master’ that has kept the group under her control. I think she is has somehow casted a spell over the members (I feel that this is what that section of Moscow Moscow alludes to), as every time she leaves, the other members find themselves going back to her. This is just my take on the story and it might have missed some points, as I have kept it brief for the more important parts of this review. The choreography. While there isn’t any crazy stunts, I find the performance to be very graceful during the more ‘quiet’ moments of the stage. Take that beautifully executed start with Yooa in the middle and the members ‘waking up’. I also liked the solo sections, as there is always something going on aside from the choreography (i.e. conducting, masks, interaction with the backup dancers etc.). Wyatt’s and MK’s section mentioned above was particularly strong, along with the clock formed by the back up dancers and J-US and Yooa’s partner dance in the middle of the performance. Another strong showing from ONF.


Shine & Spring Snow – Pentagon

Pentagon departs from their particularly strong performance from the last round and brings a more fun and lighthearted feeling to this round. And there is a particular reason for this, as it allows the members to incorporate an emotional send off to Jinho, who performed with the group for the last time before enlisting in the military. I don’t understand Korean well, but I have to admit that I have tears in my eyes every time I watch this. It shows you that bond Pentagon has managed to form with one another, something that not many groups have. Essentially, that is the concept of the performance. The Western cowboy theme at the start threw me off, as I didn’t expect it to precede Shine. I liked how they bolstered the instrumental for Shine, which made this a strong performance in its own way. Shine was cut short to allow the members to say goodbye to Jinho via the big screen (and cry on the side), before the group returned with a ballad-y opening and subsequent energetic ending with Spring Snow. It seems that the members performed live (I am unaware of the rules regarding to lipsyncing on this show), but I just want take a moment to applaud Jinho for singing effortlessly while crying in Spring Snow. That is a very good talent to have. As for the choreography, they incorporated the original dance into it (tick), while also reinventing it by mixing it up with luggage (big tick). Their use of the luggage was quite fun and added a nice new element to the performance.


Reveal (Catching Fire) – The Boyz

It seems like the use of classical and rock instruments to amplify a song is the trend in this round. The Boyz choose Reveal as their song choice. For me personally, I felt like was a weak song to choose, as they have other more dynamic and strong songs, such as No Air. The good news is, The Boyz proved me wrong. The arrangement starts off with a soft orchestral instrumentation, accented with deep thumps. The first verse ends with the impression of an epic drop, but instead we are treated to a fake drop. I don’t mind this as it just adds to the suspense of the performance. From the start of the second verse, we enter and gradually build to an epic drop that is the second chorus. It truly felt like we entered a war battle with this drop. But I note that this isn’t the intense form. That is withheld for the final chorus and closing segment of the performance, which features a faster pace of those deep thump and rock elements I mentioned at the start. For their performance concept, the crown they stole is stolen by another person. The entire performance seems to be preparation for battle to get the stolen crown back. And it is an epic (recurring word here!) performance. From the start, some of the members are part of a picture frame. Very peaceful but also very ominous. While they moved about when they were in focus, they remained frozen in the background of other shots (like an actual image), which eagle fans noticed. Other standout moments has to be when the two structures crash into one another (i.e. the second chorus) and the entire final chorus/closing sequence.


Magnolia – TOO

TOO is very limited with their song choices, as they just only made their debut recently. Balance is the key for this arrangement. The rappers who had the bulk of the verses added a little intensity and ‘dark energy’ through a mildly hip-hop approach. The vocalists have the cleaner sections of the song, showing off their vocal skills a bit. For the dance break, it seem like there is struggle between these two fractions in the music. J.You’s section (for reasons I will discuss later) appears heavenly sounding and very different to the two fractions. When the two fractions collaborate for the final sections of the performance, there is a much more profound sense of intensity that wasn’t apparent earlier in the performance, which helped bring a cohesive feel to the performance. It appears the concept also relied on balance. The rappers were part of the darker side, while the vocalists were part of the lighter side. J.You played the role of a God or angel, essentially bringing the two fractions together when they kneel down at the very end. J.You also holds a scale and it is balanced throughout the performance, providing further proof of this concept idea. The choreography was quite good. It becomes intense and shows off more of their capabilities after J.You’s solo part. The fighting scene was well choreographed that J.You was able to walk through with the balanced scales and had his eyes closed the entire time. I just wished the final moments of that sequence where he opened his eyes to ‘kill’ the fighters ended with him doing some urgent stomping, as his light walk felt weak for someone who just killed by opening his eyes. But the killer point of this performance is when Chan ‘kills’ Woonggi by twisting his neck. That definitely leaves a strong impression on the viewers!


Photo – VERIVERY

VERIVERY is the only group to choose a side track, rather than a title track. That is a very interesting decision, as Photo wouldn’t be well known. But it is a risk VERIVERY is willing to take. VERIVERY amplifies and intensifies their performance using rock elements, skipping the classical side of the intensification process that other groups had. The whispering moments in this arrangement was really cool and this adds a further level of intensity to the performance. They had an EDM-based dance break towards the end that allowed them to show off their dancing capabilities before returning to the intense whispering and familiar melodies of Photo. Even though they managed to amplify a weak choice, it doesn’t mean they nailed it. A lot of riding on their stage and they knew they had to make it powerful in a unique fashion. It is only this way does a choice of a weaker track is forgotten. Well, VERIVERY did just that with a horror-based concept. We start off the performance with Kangmin whispering the lyrics on a bed and the hands of two other members coming from under the bed, like a ghost reaching out for you while you are sleeping. The performance is injected with a blast of energy thanks to the introduction of those rock sounds and everything on stage looks chaotic for a moment. The performance settles down for a bit, before delivering the most frightening sequence of the entire performance. When four of the members and 7 of the dancers sit/stand on the bed, a female ghost appears in the background. You may not notice from afar (which makes it scary), but the camera zoom rights in on her, effectively scaring you regardless. Another scary part has to be just before the second chorus, where there are members twisting heads and being pulled for the bed. The group synchronises and showcases very sharp movements during the choruses and for the dance break. The ending brings back that chaotic touch, just before Kangmin wakes up from a dream. For a moment that looks like the case, but another member creepily stands behind him, telling us otherwise. I loved this concept.


And the rankings….

This was a very hard round to pick out a ranking from. Each performance was unique and I would gladly listen to these new arrangements of their tracks any day. But I have come up with an order, as promised. VERIVERY nailed their performance with the horror concept and earns the number one rank. The seventh place rank unfortunately is given to TOO. Not because their performance was weak or didn’t hit the brief, it is just I felt everyone else had a stronger performance.

PerformanceArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
RevealThe Boyz#1#4
LitONEUS#2#5
The We Must LoveONF#3#2
PhotoVERIVERY#4#1
Shine + Spring SnowPentagon#5#3
MagnoliaTOO#6#7
WannabeGolden Child#7#6

At the end of the second round, the group with the least points when combining the first and second round points was to be eliminated. Golden Child came in last under this system and hence was eliminated from the show. This was quite harsh, especially since we were only unmasking their potential. The good news is that an early departure allows them to make a comeback sooner, and that will happen tomorrow! Unfortunately, I also said I would be choosing a group to leave the show. And that doesn’t really bring any good news to any group. While I just mentioned speak of their potential, I have some bad news to share. Based on my rankings, Golden Child would have left my version as well. The ranking after the two rounds is below.

RankingArtist
#1VERIVERY
#2The Boyz
#3ONF
#4Pentagon
#5TOO
#6ONEUS
#7Golden Child

Sorry that I wasn’t able to bring any better news to all the Golden Child stans out there. If I had my way, no group would be eliminated. I am excited for Golden Child’s comeback tomorrow and can’t wait for their new release (the teaser/highlight medley looks and sounds promising)! Also check back tomorrow, as I will be posting the fourth part of the Road To Kingdom review series (i.e. Round 3 Part 1 -‘Collaboration’).

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings